I Went To 'Gilmore Girls' Fan Fest
Entertainment

I Went To 'Gilmore Girls' Fan Fest

​A charming weekend in the “real” Stars Hollow

108

A little over sixteen years ago, the first episode of Gilmore Girls aired, and a little over sixteen years ago, the hearts of millions of fans worldwide were stolen by a witty, fast-talking mother-daughter duo whose obsession with coffee nearly matches the fan’s obsession with the show. It is a phenomenon that has withstood the test of time. So impassioned are the fans, cast, and creators, that Gilmore Girls has been revived! Hallelujah!

That was thrilling enough news on its own, but apparently Gilmore Girls fans were granted two wishes this year. The show returning for four movie-length episodes in November, and the show having a fan fest. “A fan fest,” you may be thinking. “What does a fan fest entail?” Well, in short, it’s a fan convention where hundreds of super fans flock to see panels and take pictures with the actors from the show, in this case, from Gilmore Girls.

When I saw this event pop up in my Facebook feed, I immediately went to my mom and channeled Lorelai as I rambled on at a mile a minute about the fest and how fun it would be. She was the one who got me into the show, convincing me to watch it with her the summer before I went off to college. (Thank you, Mom!) Suffice it to say, I was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of attending, especially since my college is in Connecticut. How perfect is that? Mom agreed and it was set.

Flash forward several weeks later to a rainy, but beautiful Friday. After much anticipation, the weekend had finally arrived. I sped out of my last class and over to my car, my bag already packed and ready. (I may have been a tad over-excited.) The two hour drive was the most aesthetically pleasing drive of my life, increasing in beauty the closer I got to Washington Depot (the town Stars Hollow is based on). I was in awe of the hilly roads winding through fields and forests afire with the dazzling colors of autumn. The daffodil yellows, the scarlet reds, the pumpkin oranges. Autumn’s seasonal masterpiece filled me with a warm, cozy sense of joy, one that paralleled the ambiance of the “real” Stars Hollow and the tight-knit community dwelling there. I was prepared to be charmed, and charmed I was.

The first thing that charmed me, aside from the fall foliage, was the street signs. That sounds silly, but I’m not kidding, all around Washington Depot were street names borrowed straight from fairy tales. Paddy Hollow, Sunny Ridge, Cabbage Lane, and Bee Brook--just to name a few. I felt like I was in a magical movie as we drove past these darling signs and into the heart of the town--small, but idyllic. Quaint little shops including Hickory Bookshop and the Washington Depot Supply Company were clustered around a four way intersection, traffic being controlled by smiley crossing guards. (Speaking of smiley. On the drive in, I saw a car with two bright yellow smiley faces stuck on each side it. If that’s not a harbinger of good times to come, I don’t know what is.)

Parking was by the local school at the base of a gorgeous mountain, also transformed by the colors of fall. We signed in under a green pavilion where “smile, you’re on camera” signs were tacked up on the posts, which I found amusing. We were then given wristbands and goodie bags (containing a tee shirt, chips or popcorn, soap or dragonfly stationery, “ready for all things” decal, a schedule, and a Megpie).

Yes, that car does say "Honk if you line scuba dive. Gilmore Girls Fan Fest Bound!"

Throughout the afternoon they had screenings of the pilot in the massive white tents in front of, and next to, Town Hall. They also had a small tent brimming with countless Kindred Handicrafts’ awesome homemade shirts, so we grabbed some of those for ourselves and our friends.

As for dining, they had food trucks outside of Town Hall, but Mom and I wanted to check out the town’s charming tavern, GW. That place only made me love Washington Depot even more. The walls were delicately painted with nature scenes and a warm glow lit the whole restaurant. Fairy lights, faux animals, flowers, and branches lined a section of the ceiling. Plus, by the bathroom, there was an old scarecrow--which I thought was a real in my first encounter. GW was packed with fan fest goers, one of the lovely waitresses noting how crazy it was that so many people came for the event. (Crazy awesome.)

To end Friday, fans gathered under the two tents to watch a live-stream of the panel going on inside of Town Hall (for VIP attendees only). The panel lasted from 7-9pm and included: Valerie Campbell (costume supervisor), Jami Rudofsky (casting director), George Bell (dialogue coach), Stan Zimmerman (consulting producer/writer), Sheila Lawrence (writer/producer), and Mara Casey (casting director). Here are some things we learned:

About the seasons: Filming winter is not so fun for the cast and crew because the fake snow makes them sick and they have to bundle up despite the boiling hot LA weather. The consensus seemed to be that fall is the favorite season in large part because of the gorgeous sets, like the radiant leaves put up on the trees.

About the dialogue: Lauren Graham (Lorelai) hits the nail on the head with her speedy dialogue, and both she and Alexis Bledel (Rory) write down their lines to help memorize them. Guest stars not accustomed to the coffee-induced, rapid pace are told to “Gilmore-ize it” by George Bell (dialogue coach), in order to keep up, but sometimes that can take 36 takes. (Not exaggerating.)

About casting Dean: When Jared Padalecki (Dean) auditioned for the role he was a talented 17 year old about to fly back to Texas, so the casting directors, who described him as being "cute," implored Amy to quickly check him out before it was too late. Once he auditioned, Amy said, “well, that’s not fair,” because it’s unheard of to find the guy on the first try, but they did. Jared was it.

About “the one who got away”: Guess which A-list celebrity auditioned for Gilmore Girls but “fell flat”? None other than Ryan Gosling! He was up for the role of a football player but got turned down.

About Costuming: The dresses from the cotillion episode were reused for “You Jump, I Jump Jack,” and later for an episode with Hep Alien. Nothing goes to waste!

About Writing: Amy Sherman-Palladino (the creator) took the writers on writing retreats six weeks before filming had to start--to places like Vegas--in order to figure out the story-lines.

Star Herrmann, Ed’s sunshiney wife, and their daughter joined the panel to recount memorable Ed-moments, in life and on set. Star revealed that Ed genuinely loved the Gilmore Girls and the fans, and was even endearingly asked by a young boy to be his pretend grandpa. Ed, being the kindhearted soul he was, wrote back and forth with the boy.

Valerie recalled Ed kicking up his leg whenever she’d try and get a photo of him; she now has a series of photos of Ed mid-kick. Additionally, Ed's unmatched chemistry with Kelly Bishop (Emily) was mentioned as being something admired by all of the cast. They reminisced about fabulous table reads where Kelly and Ed were Skyped in; their connection was electric even when not in the same room.

Ed's daughter thinks that it will be beautiful to see Ed's character receive the proper closure and come “full circle” in the revival, though watching for her will be bittersweet.

Day two arrived in what felt like a matter of minutes. Upon coming into town, Mom and I instantly became one with the sea of multi-colored umbrellas outside of the bookshop. The rain was soaking our shoes and chilling us to the bone, two not-so-comfortable things that you’d think would spoil our day. But the gloomy weather wasn’t at all a deterrent for the fans; the town was still packed with psyched guys and gals (mostly gals) eagerly waiting to meet the cast. For me, the rain, while not optimal, added a certain thrill to the whole thing, and I find shiny water droplets on umbrellas and slick leaves resting on the pavement to be breathtaking. (Maybe I’m just weird.) The lines weren’t too bad either because waiting in lines creates the perfect opportunity to make new friends. Who doesn’t love making new friends?--especially when you know they adore Gilmore Girls. (In fact, one fan, when asked what the highlight of the festival had been, said it was meeting all of the other fans!)

Washington Depot Supply Company was our savior, providing us--and several others--with rainboots and toasty socks to warm our feet.

I made two friends in Keiko Agena (Lane) and John Cabrera’s (Brian) line, Megan Dunford (graduate of Virginia Tech) and Elle Humes (senior at Virginia Tech), and inquired about their personal highlights of the festival thus far. Megan thought it was cool to hear about all of the behind-the-scenes tidbits, like reusing the gowns from the cotillion episode.

Megan and I outside of Hickory Stick Bookshop

Elle’s favorite behind-the-scenes story was when Valerie and other crew members had to scramble last minute to put together Jackson’s wrestling pajamas the night before filming. Jackson Douglas (Jackson) had to call his dad for old pictures which Valerie then hurriedly photo-shopped on the body of wrestlers and then ironed onto white pajamas taken from another show.

These are the pajamas, in case you forgot them and all their glory

Megan and Elle were fortunate enough to have VIP access to Town Hall, meaning they were party to the “outburst” from Liz Torres (Miss Patty) up on the balcony. (Unable to be heard out in the tents.) According to Elle, Michael Ausiello (moderating the panel) told Liz that she was allowed one more interjection, so Liz shouted down that she’d like to take him home. What a hoot!

When Megan, Elle, and I finally reached the end of the line, the volunteers informed us time was out and we wouldn’t get our photo ops, but, by some miracle (otherwise known as my mom), the three of us managed to snag a quick photo with Keiko and John, who were both super sweet!

Keiko and John weren't the only people I got to meet by the bookshop. I got to talk with Stephanie Storey (author of "Oil & Marble"), her husband Mike Gandolphi (Andrew), and Liz Torres, as well. As an aspiring author, it was such a pleasure to see Stephanie’s enthusiasm about publishing her debut novel, and to get advice from her. What was especially neat was that Stephanie had fans sign her book, too. Going off of that great idea, Mike said he's looking forward to signing my book someday. Crossing my fingers that that will happen.

Look at how smiley! I love happy people!

(Liz is actually Miss Patty in real life too, in case anyone needed the clarification. :))

Before driving over to the Mayflower Inn for lunch, Mom and I got to hear Vanessa Marano (April) discuss the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. She was, as everyone was, incredibly friendly. (Some may hate her character, but she is lovely!)

Everyone was so smiley!

The Mayflower Inn was picturesque with pumpkins lining the roof of the white veranda at its entrance and pristine gardens out back. I can completely see how it was the inspiration for the Dragonfly Inn in the show.

After stepping into that fairy tale setting, we were whisked away to another in New Preston. New Preston epitomizes small-town charm, particularly The Smithy, an old blacksmith shop turned into a local food store. A line of fans snaked around the rustic wooden interior, stocked with fluffy cinnamon rolls, fruity pies, fresh veggies, and flavored vinegar. In the loft area, where art is exhibited, Jackson Douglas (Jackson) was signing cookbooks and taking pictures. He was affable and chatty, and revealed he is not much of a gardener, unlike his produce-loving character. However, fun fact, he bought a lemon tree two weeks before leaving for the festival!

(We were matching...no big deal.)

It wouldn’t be a Gilmore Girls event if copious food items weren’t available, so as well as the food trucks, pizza, and coffee bar, there was a cake tasting across the street from Town Hall.

Last, but not least, of Saturday’s events was the cast panel and trivia featuring: Rose Abdoo (Gypsy), Keiko Agena, Aris Alvarado (Caesar), Rini Bell (Lulu), John Cabrera, Jackson Douglas, Mike Gandolfi, Sean Gunn (Kirk), Todd Lowe (Zack), Vanessa Marano,Ted Rooney (Morey), Liz Torres, and Biff Yeager (Tom). The Gilmore Guys did a great job of moderating the panel, both charismatic and funny. Here are six quick fun facts they helped us learn:

According to Rose, Gypsy had a crush on Lorelai. (Woah! Who knew!?)

The Hep Alien members are still friends in real life! (I love when that happens.)

The town meeting scenes were the hardest to film. (They sometimes took from 7am to 10pm to finish.)

All Ted Rooney had to do to get the part of Morey was be tall and skinny. (He joked.)

Sean Gunn thoroughly enjoyed Kirk playing Jesus. (I think everyone enjoyed that.)

Hep Alien’s slogan on their flyers was “we are out there” which no one at the festival knew. (We all bowed our heads in shame.)

Afterwards, another new friend of mine, Sam, was told that the cast would be out back of Town Hall, so we hurried over to catch some of them before they departed. We managed to get pictures with Ted Rooney who was kindly lagging behind the others for the sake of the fans.

You might have noticed something missing from this relaying of events. Something boyfriend related, maybe having to do with three handsome young men: Dean, Jess, and Logan. If you are one of the countless fans who is insatiably curious over who Rory will choose, here’s what I gathered from the festival. Team Jess is by far the most popular team--I'm not kidding, he is eons ahead of Dean and Logan, with members such as Mara Casey, Jami Rudofsky, and Vanessa Marano on his team. Logan came next, backed by Jennie (creator of the festival), Todd, and a couple of others. Lagging far behind was Dean, who barely had any supporters. (Though everyone loves Jared.) As for the fans, when asked to holler for their favorite boyfriend of Rory’s, Jess beat out all the others with an eruption of cheers and clapping. (I’m Team Jess, too. Though I was Team Dean in the beginning.) George Bell says all three guys are great and un-Hollywood, and that he teasingly warned them not to change because he'd have something to say about it.

Mike garnered mass-approval and raucous applause when he answered his team preference with “Rory is an independent woman and doesn’t need a man to define her.” Mrs. Kim would approve. (Sean Gunn yelled “Kirk!” when the crowd was picking teams, so there’s always that option--though I think Lulu has dibs.)

Who's your pick?

On Sunday morning, after a yummy breakfast with our fellow Gilmore Girls fans at our b&b, Mom and I headed over to Washington Depot for the closing festivities. The sun was shining and the air was crisp, the ideal weather for the final day of the fan fest. Jennie, who organized the whole thing, was awesome and kept the crowd laughing as she gave away all sorts of goodies at random: a jersey from George Bell, key chains, Gilmore Girls mugs, cookbooks, cookies, etc. But the best part of the giveaways for me was Rose Abdoo (Gypsy) making an appearance. She let us in on a little behind-the-scenes info; the sweater she wore in the knit-a-thon episode was extremely itchy and was refused by Lauren and Melissa McCarthy (Sookie), which I thought was hilarious.

She then said thank you to the fans and gave them two of her 89 year old mother’s stunning ornaments, intricately painted with Stars Hollow blanketed in sparkling snow. I was lucky enough to get one of them because I have an ultra nice mom. (Rose said so, as did Jared at a Supernatural convention, so I guess she must really be the best, even better than Lorelai. ;)) I hugged Rose and took a photo--she’s the sweetest!--and she told me to think of them at Christmas when I hang up the ornament on my tree.

Side note: For those who didn’t get the chance to come out to this festival, don’t fret, Rose thinks they should have another one after the November episodes are released, and I’m sure others are of the same mindset. There is hope for you yet!

The very final thing we did was watch two heartwarming Ed Herrmann tributes--one a compilation of his impressive career, the other a slideshow of pictures, the cutest being him going all-out in the costume department for Halloween. He is dearly missed and remembered fondly.

Parting was sorrowful, as it tends to be, but I had such a wonderful experience. Washington Depot was, as I heard one woman say, like a postcard, even in the rain. Elle said she could picture Rory walking from her house to the bookshop, which is a testament to Washington Depot’s ability to inspire Amy so fully, prompting her to develop one of the most beloved stories ever told on television. The number of times I said, “everyone is so nice and everything is so charming!” would amount to enough dollars to fill Richard and Emily Gilmore’s mansion from floor to ceiling--including the pool house.

I know this article is interminable, but that's only because a ton of fun stuff went on during this amazing fan fest! So really quick, I have a story to end with. After stopping at Nine Main in New Preston for some hot cider, Mom and I parted ways and I began my return trip to my college. My GPS ended up taking me back through Washington Depot, and boy am I glad it did. As I slowed in the town center, I noticed a small clump of people in front of Hickory Bookshop. Curious, I tried to get a closer look, and what did I see? Sean Gunn? Could that be Stars Hollow’s very own Kirk taking pictures with the few lingering fans? Yes, it was indeed! I pulled right near Sean and excitedly dashed from my car and into the short line next to Megan (who just so happened to be there at that moment!). But, alas, the line was cut off in front of us, Sean having limited time. So close...hang on, this is a happy tale. As I was about to desert the line, two incredibly generous girls gave up their spots so we got to be the last ones to meet Sean. (If you ever read this, thank you!) He was, as I’ve said about all of the cast and fans and townsfolk, a super nice guy. What are the odds of me driving back through town at exactly that time!? Life is full of happy coincidences!

The dreamy weekend ceased as I drove off into the sunset--or at least that’s what it felt like—”Where You Lead, I Will Follow” blasting, crunchy leaves fluttering in the breeze, and a smile plastered on my face.

Thank you, Mom!

Mom and I grinning from day one to day three

And a huge thanks goes to Jennie and Marcus for making every fan's dream come to life!

(Maybe never taking this off ;))

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Lifestyle

10 Etsy Father's Day Gifts Under $40 To Support Your Dad And Small Businesses

Stores may still be closed, but the internet is still wide open. So, while you're already shopping online check out Etsy for your Father's Day needs and support small creators.

As June approaches, Father's Day is coming up quickly with it. While they may not ask for much, it's always a nice gesture to give your dad something special to share your appreciation. Although, at the same time, it might be difficult to find the perfect gift either for their humor or that will be practical.

On a normal occasion, it's simple to find a gift for your father figures in stores, but for the times we're currently in our access has become very limited. Small and independent businesses need help now more than ever, so what better time than now to support them? If you're still stuck on what to give for Father's Day, look to this list for some inspiration that won't hurt your wallet too much.

Keep Reading... Show less

The worlds of beauty and fashion often collide, whether for good or bad. In both, underrepresentation has always been, and remains to be, a major unresolved issue. After the recent killing of George Floyd, many people are rightfully enraged, compounded by the fact his death in police custody wasn't an isolated incident.

Police brutality against Black people is not new, and isn't going away till we start dedicating resources to fighting it. Many of us, as individuals, have only begun in the last week scratching the surface of what it means to educate ourselves on race, historical race relations, and how to be an ally to the Black community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Can Still Connect While Disconnecting From Social Media

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a lot going on right now, particularly in relation to George Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter, and public protest of racial injustice in the United States. While we can all agree that this deserves conversations, change, and actionable good, social media arguments with Great Aunt Linda are not where social change begins and ends. Spending too much time scrolling through your phone has never been healthy, but now it's even more addicting — what does that one person from my hometown say about this? How can I further education within discussions? Am I posting enough?

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't know about you, but reading is at the top of my to-do list this summer... especially with all the social distancing I'll still be doing. If, like me, you're hoping to pick up a romantic page-turner (or a couple dozen), here are 23 romance novels by Black authors you'll absolutely LOVE reading.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

12 Ways To Help The #BlackLivesMatter Movement If You CAN'T Protest

We can all do better. Join the fight against racial injustice.

The current state of the world has created the perfect storm for change in America. But with change there is always risk. Although protests have sprung up all across America, COVID-19 is still a very real risk. Luckily, you can help bring about change from the comfort of your own home. And no, I don't mean just by posting a black square on social media.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

True Self-Care Is HARD, That Face Mask Isn't Actually Going To Solve Your Problems

There's a line between self-care and self-destruction.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past few years has seen something somewhere about self-care whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or their Instagram feed. Oftentimes it's pictures of celebrities or influencers sipping green smoothies or slathering on mud masks with #selfcare. It's posts like these that made me realize that "self-care" has become the ultimate buzz word, soaring in popularity but in the process, it's lost most of its original meaning. It's time to set the record straight and reclaim the term.

Although self-care has been around for quite some time, within the past few years it's been misconstrued and commodified as our capitalist society tends to do with things it thinks can be profited off. Self-care is now being peddled as something that can be bought and sold on the shelf at Target rather than something that takes real work to achieve. This fake self-care movement is not only enabling people to over-indulge themselves, but it has created a crutch for people to avoid the responsibility of taking true care of themselves. Instead of doing the work that needs to be done, many people fall into the trap of rewarding themselves for doing nothing at all — this can quickly become an unhealthy coping mechanism, especially with corporations cheering us on (to buy their next product). Long, hard day at work? Just grab your third iced coffee of the day! Fight with your SO? Buy that 50-dollar face mask, it'll make you feel better! This is how self-care becomes self-sabotage and self-destructive.

Keep Reading... Show less

Minorities are consistently under-represented in our day-to-day lives, notably in the world of fashion. It's likely you're looking for a way to support black artists. Whether that's the case or you're just a fashion-lover in general, these brands aren't just some of the best black-owned fashion brands — they're some of the most innovative brands of our time, period.

From luxury staples to fun accessories and loungewear, these brands aren't just stunning names you should definitely be following on Instagram, each honors the founder's roots in unique ways with the power of storytelling through artistic expression that manifests in pieces we can't wait to wear.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

10 Home Items You Need For Stress Relief, On The Days You 'Literally Cannot'

Fill your home with peaceful, calming coping mechanisms.

I'd like to think that 2020 is teaching us a lot. Or will teach us a lot. Or will be a story we tell at parties one day. Ultimately, this year has been — and is probably going to continue to be — a bit of a mess.

At the beginning of the year, Australia was on fire and we mourned the death of Kobe Bryant. Then, coronavirus (COVID-19) took our spring and shut us in our homes, inciting panic over public health and sparking political upheaval at every decision made by local and federal officials alike. Now, a week after George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a nationwide conversation is reignited with protests regarding racial injustice in the United States. There is an enormous amount of tension, hurt, and change that is upon the American people.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments