Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Weekend in Stars Hollow

We got to spend a magical time in Stars Hollow, CT. We spent time talking and taking photos with cast and crew members. We stayed in a lovely Connecticut home (the owner even had a box of big, delicious muffins waiting for us). We got to attend so many great panels and activities. The weather was perfect and the fall foliage was beautiful. It. Was. Wonderful. 

Day 1

Checking in at Town Hall, because OF COURSE.

Picking up our t-shirts and swag bags!

Our Gilmore Girls Fan Festival guidebooks

Outside the HUGE tent

Inside the HUGE tent
My Program/Guidebook

Our wristbands for the festival events

We loved experiencing this as a family. I've seen the series twice with Mark and I've seen it once with each of my kids. And of course there's the revival, which we all watched together in one day (and with plenty of food and coffee!). 

We started this little road trip with a stop in Scranton, PA (lots of "The Office" fun) and we bookended the trip with a couple of college visits (one in MA and one in NY). But the main part of this trip? Attending the GILMORE GIRLS FAN FESTIVAL in Kent, CT with 1500 other fans as well as Stars Hollow regulars. Everything about this festival exceeded my expectations. I honestly feel homesick for it. I'm content, but a bit "homesick." Ah, Stars Hollow . . . 

Day 1 consisted of checking in at Town Hall followed by cake tasting like Lorelai and Rory did at Weston's. We tried 4 different kinds (all delicious!) at a bakery by the gazebo. They also had coffee stands all over the town for Gilmore Girls festival goers!

Next up was a fun and fascinating panel with the very warm and affable George Bell (dialogue coach as well as actor on Gilmore Girls - several roles, including Professor Bell, Stanley, etc.) and the lovely Carla McCloskey (Production Manager, Assistant Director, and more) and moderated by BuzzFeed's Krystie Yandoli. It was so much fun to hear so many behind-the-scenes stories! We've already re-watched several clips and episodes to look for the things we learned about in these panels. It's astounding to learn about all that goes into a show like this and it's especially fascinating to hear about all the things that illustrate why Gilmore Girls is especially unique.

This was our first Gilmore Girls festival (the tickets sold out even more quickly the first year), but we learned that George Bell was one of many returning cast/crew members. It was completely evident how much he enjoys this festival! He seemed right at home walking around town and visiting with everyone. He was so wonderful and beloved by all!

There was so much going on (Intro to Stress Tap Dancing, anyone?) that it was difficult to choose what to see and what to miss. We got to meet the editor of the Yale Daily News at the Town Hall and that was pretty neat.

One of the greatest parts of the festival was simply wandering around the quaint town of Connecticut and mingling with all of the townies, Stars Hollow characters, and everyone else who helped make Gilmore Girls AND this festival so special. Some of the local shops made some cute displays to fit with the theme of the weekend. Kent, CT is a lovely town and the people were welcoming and everyone was so friendly. It was so incredibly lovely that I'm still floating on air!

There were so many antique stores!

Walking back over to the big tent

Shortcut via the railroad tracks

We got to attend a songwriting workshop with none other than the lovely Louise Goffin (daughter of Carole King and so much like her!). The familiar Gilmore Girls theme song that we know and love from the show is performed by this mother-daughter duo. 

Songwriting with Louise Goffin

Seriously, this tent was massive

After a bit of that workshop, we walked around town a bit on our way to Lane's (Keiko Agena) art show at the Parish Hall. We were pretty excited about this as were many others. 

Keiko's art
And then we got to meet her! She is so much like Lane in her mannerisms, excitement, and PURE adorableness. I told her she looks exactly the same and her eyes widened and her hands flew out expressively and she exclaimed, "I do?!?" Just. Like. Lane. 

We got to talk to her for a bit and get some pictures. I will cherish everything about this weekend for a long time to come. There is no other show quite like this where the town itself is a character, too, making a walkable town festival the perfect way to fangirl/fanboy about pretty much everything and everyone.

OMG! That's us with LANE KIM, y'all!
From Keiko's art show, we headed over to meet Gypsy (Rose Abdoo) and while we were waiting in line, the boys go to meet Caesar since he was walking past Town Hall anyway. He is SUPER nice and I just love that he's wearing a Hep Alien shirt. 

He's got dimples!

It was really special to get a chance to thank all of these amazing people for bringing joy and laughter to our lives. Gilmore Girls is such a special show! 

So, waiting to meet Gypsy took a while and I'm SO GLAD, because we got to meet some of the coolest people. We all became fast friends while doing Gilmore Girls trivia and getting to know each other while waiting in line together. For the next several days, any time any of us saw one another, we'd yell out our nicknames for each other or hang out at events together or sneak more pictures with famous people together. It. Was. So. Much. Fun. I miss all of them!

Line Friends!
I miss these line friends!! Detroit and Indiana in the house!! Speaking of locations, we met fans from so many states as well as London and The Netherlands. We also heard that there were people there from as far as Alaska and even South Africa. I'm telling you, this was very special. 

Rose's facial expressions were different in every one of the 6 pictures we took, so I chose two of them. She is so expressive and SUCH a nice person. She was excited to see a whole family there. I told her that I enjoy everything I've ever seen of hers. She was so gracious and took so much time with everyone. There was no rush. Such a beautiful person. 

She had several friends with her selling crafts and books. I found out later that the author of the book we bought is none other than her husband! He was also clearly a very kind person, too. The book is filled with pictures he drew for her on napkins every day to cheer her up while she was going through cancer treatments. So happy she's doing well!

Jennie and Marcus

That is a picture of Jennie and Marcus - the organizers of this incredible event, now two years running. They did a fabulous job and I'm very grateful to them for their vision and all the work they put into making it special for all of us!

After meeting Rose, it was time to head over to the big tent for the evening panel and Q&A moderated by Woman’s Day Annemarie Conte & Elle’s Gena Kaufman This time we got to her from George Bell, Valerie Campbell, Sheila Lawrence, Carla McCloskey, and Stan Zimmerman. 

It was great to hear more from George and Carla and it was really fun to have a few more crew members join them. Valerie Campbell is the costumer and resident friend of every single person on set. She knew EVERYONE and is clearly beloved by all. Sheila Lawrence and Stan Zimmerman were two of the writers (along with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, obviously) and it's always fun to hear from the writers! The stories they have to tell! So interesting to hear about their process and how it works with filming the show. 

Stan Zimmerman was wholly irreverent, which made it even more fun.

Enjoying the panel in the big tent!

Another friend - Lily - asks a question during the Q&A
We met Lily early on the first day, where she interviewed me for an article she's writing.Then we seemed to run into her just about everywhere. Oh, and hey look! Those are two of our Line Friends in front of her!

My feet got cold the first night . . .

So I used my gloves.
We were hungry after everything was done. It was after 9pm so we went to the local pizza place and got some pizza. They had some fun with the menu and a few Stars Hollow shout-outs.

I seem to catch Max chewing when I take these food pictures.

Day 2

Day 2 started with a Knit-a-thon, so we saw people throughout the day continuing their knitting while waiting in line or while waiting in the tent for the next panel or event. They also hosted an Edward Herrman memorial walk/fun run with 100% of the proceeds going to brain cancer research. 

The costume contest was then judged by Ed Herrman's family. We all entered. I was Lorelai on Rory's first day at Chilton. Kate was Lane. And the boys were both Luke. People loved that they remembered the pencil behind the ear. So many people had such clever costumes!! 

Walking in behind the Life and Death Brigade

Everyone arriving for the costume contest - lots of Rorys!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun! Fantastic Mother-daughter costume.

My Lukes!
Remember what Lorelai wore on Rory's first day at Chilton? That was my inspiration for the costume contest. Thank you, Lisa, for lending me the coat!

Luke and Lorelai

Kate as Lane!

Lily again with her clever costume

I spy Luke and Lorelai.

Jackson (and his infamous pajamas) and Sookie

My cute mini Luke!

A few other women had the same idea as I had . . .

More cute Rory costumes

Lorelai and Paul Anka!

The Herrman Family judging the costumes

My boys won!

These Sookies were hilarious! You can see a few of them in action here.

This is what my boys won! It's already framed for our basement. It's signed by so many members of the cast, including Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Emily Bishop, Edward Herrman, Jared Padaleki, Milo, and more!! SUCH a cool prize. We love it! 

Oh, and by the way, every time the subject came up of "which team" someone was on, most cast/crew had difficulty choosing, because they know all 3 boys intimately and kept reiterating what truly nice and good people they are. This was a recurring theme. 

A deer hits Rory - these were 2 different costumes, not a planned group thing! The deer had "JEEP" written backwards across her forehead. So funny!

They had actual glitter. It gave them problems at the airport, but boy was it worth it.
"We've got magic to do!"

After the costume contest, we were privileged to be able to sit in on a screening
of Emma Herrmann’s documentary “Traveling” on Ed’s life. She is a student at NYU and it's part of her film project. It was moving. I didn't know he had a daughter who was so young. He is dearly missed by everyone. 

It was pretty challenging to get to everything (though we tried!). We skipped the Life and Death Brigade to get to some other events. We hear it was excellent - we're glad we got to meet the boys later after the panel. We headed right over to the coffee monologues after Kate and I changed out of our costumes. 

My little secret - these are the socks I wore inside my boots

Next up was the Coffee Monologues and they were EXCELLENT! Stan Zimmerman wrote/edited the monologues and did such a wonderful job! It was both moving and funny. He compiled a lot of classic lines and monologues from Gilmore Girls and had 3 male actors read for the parts of Lorelai, Rory, and Emily. They all did such a fabulous job! 

While we were waiting for the show to start, we saw Biff Yeager (Tom) in the back and he was so easy to talk to and so willing to meet with people and take pictures. He's a regular New Yorker. Well, a regular New Yorker who also has a recurring role on Gilmore Girls. 

The Coffee Monologues were so fun! Sam Pancake, Aris Alvarado, and George Bell (together with Stan Zimmerman, of course) did a fabulous job!

And, being the awesome festival that it was, we got to meet and talk with them all afterward. They are all such interesting and lovely people. 

Meeting Stan Zimmerman, the writer!

Just me and Lauren's BFF, Sam Pancake. No big deal.


This man is a gem! One of the highlights of the festival, for sure!

The girls' turn to meet Aris (Ceasar)!
It was just so much fun to walk all over town and meet other fans and festival goers. So much to see. So much to talk about!

From Day 1
Also from Day 1 - matching t-shirts!

These 3 were so cute! Team Jess Lady was so excited to take a picture with me afterward because we, too, are on Team Jess!

A Sookie crossing the street
Rory by the bus

We got to sit in on “Writing for TV” with Sheila Lawrence, moderated by TV Line's Kim Root. That was super interesting as well. Sheila has worked on a lot of different shows, including Gilmore Girls. 

After that event, we headed over to the town library to meet Rini Bell (Kirk's girlfriend, Lulu). She is super sweet, just like her character on the show.

Us with Rini (Lulu)

After meeting Rini, there were several events/panels going on at once and it was so hard to choose what to see and what to possibly miss, but we knew that we could NOT miss meeting Mrs. Kim, so we headed over to Afternoon Tea with Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim), which was appropriately held at one of the Antique Stores. I was so excited to meet her! She's lovely!!

Video of us meeting Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim)

Our family with Mrs. Kim, one of my very favorite characters from the show!

How perfect is it that the antique shop is on Lane Street?!?

From there, we were off to meet Miss Patty (the incomparable Liz Torres) and what a treat that was! She is in a wheelchair and the staff/volunteers told us that she would have limited time with fans and they even cut off the line, but it looked a whole lot more like Liz was running the show and she took time with EVERYONE she met, including a dog! 

She was definitely a HUGE highlight of the festival. She is an amazing human being and just radiates love and humor. Everyone adores her and she definitely brought a ton of personality and laughter to all. We took a few sly pictures with Max, because she is one of his favorite characters. Later, a volunteer took pity on us and let him take an actual picture with her. I wish we'd also gotten a picture of when she held his hand and thanked him when he told her that she is one of his favorite characters. So sweet and tender. She is amazing with kids! 

Picture on the sly
Picture on the sly
Later, actually getting to meet Miss Patty!
Her wheelchair kept rolling on its own, so my friend and I kept stopping it. If you look closely, you can see her behind the wheelchair saving the day!

Because we were kind of hanging around to meet Liz Torres (Miss Patty) right as the line was forming for Valerie Campbell's Ice Cream Social (Churning & Tasting) with Costuming Q&A at the Town Hall, we decided to stay and I'm glad we did. Valerie is a joy (and obviously beloved by ALL the cast and crew) and Liz came in and stole the show! It was a riot! We got to help churn ice cream and ask Valerie questions. It was fun and delicious! 

Waiting in line to help
Tasting homemade ice cream
See Liz/Miss Patty there on the right? See Mark toward the back on the left?

I can't resist posting this video of Liz telling a story, mixing up some names, and just being generally hilarious. Love, love, love her! We got to yell out that we love her, too, as she had been wheeled past us earlier. 

After the ice cream churning event and after spending more time with Liz/Miss Patty, we walked around town with our friends for a bit to grab a bite. While we did so, we ran into yet more cast members! 

There's George Bell again!
The kids and me with Eric Henry and Sam Pancake, both actors from the revival
Taking a shortcut back to the big tent with our line friends
Next up was the cocktail hour that leads to the panel. Eric Henry entertained us and was such a cutie. Mark and I slipped out to go to the "Secret Bar." They had Founder's Day Punch and unofficial "Yummy Bartenders." (Okay, they weren't even unofficial, but I couldn't resist.)

A little fun in the tent

We all started tonight's CAST panel with a sing-a-long. They helped us out. :) MAGICAL!

"Where You Lead" Sing-a-long with Louise Goffin and Cast!
Pinch me. I still can't believe we did this!

The big tent was PACKED. This night was SO special. We got to hear from so many cast members and the stories were delightful! Kim Roots of TV Line moderated and we got to hear from Rose Abdoo, Keiko Agena, Aris Alvarado, Rini Bell, Mike Gandolfi, Eric Henry, Emily Kuroda, Alan Loayza, Todd Lowe, Sam Pancake, Tanc Sade, Liz Torres and Biff Yeager. So many Gilmore Girls characters!! 

They came out a few at at time . . . 

Rini was hilariously dry and wickedly funny.

Finn and his yummy accent - he hammed it up big time.

We ate Red Vines (of course!) from our Swag Bags.

Biff (Tom) kept taking pictures.
So Liz (Miss Patty) really made an entrance. If you watch carefully, you can see how she jokes about her weight loss and how she teases the audience and those around her. This was a show stopper and the crowd went wild. Standing ovation of love for Liz Torres!  

Apologies for my camera work . . . I clearly need to learn some things. :P Ha! Wait! Mark just said it was his camera work. So blame him. :P

People seriously just went nuts for her. And who can blame us?!? She's fabulous! Then we got to hear more stories from everyone on the panel. It was so much fun!

One of my personal favorite moments of the night was when Rose played a voice mail message from Sally Struthers (Babette). She was supposed to be there, but couldn't make it. I don't think Rose realized it was going to get political. It was hilarious! I believe the app they used was called Voxxer (or at least something like that) and Sally was trying to convince everyone to get it because "it's like a walkie talkie and no one can interrupt you!"

I'll post a 12-second video of Finn's delicious accent. Boy, did he make everyone swoon. In this clip, he's talking about how exact every word HAD to be on this show. No ad libbing at all.

One of the BIGGEST moments of the night was when Sam Pancake managed to get his BFF, Lauren Graham, to Facetime us. The crowd went absolutely WILD with excitement and love and gratitude. It moved Lauren to tears and was such a treat for all of us. You can hear the initial excitement of the crowd in the first video. Then the video froze, but then they got her back on again and it was such a cool and BIG moment for all the fans there. I loved it!

Watch this video and then the one below (after the picture)


 I know this may sound like a "no duh" kind of thing to say, but they were all so . . . normal! Just good people and normal human beings. It was so fun to hang out with all of them in Stars Hollow!!

In the big tent!
Wonderful cast panel!

We decided to hang around and head toward the stage. We got to take more pictures with more cast members. As luck would have it, we ran into our line friends again and got some fun group shots with them, too. 

With Finn

All of us with Colin - it was a tight fit up by the stage
Our family with Bookstore owner Andrew (Mike Gandolfi)

Geller Gilmore 2020!
The festival was even more fun thanks to this fine group of people!

Outside, we ran into another Luke and Lorelai. They were kind enough to oblige us with a picture. This guy had his walk down and everything!


I took this picture just for my friend Mindy. This woman is the founder of the Chilton Running Club. But now I think this may or may not be the club Mindy participates in, as I think that one might be the Stars Hollow Running Club. Oh well. Still cool, right? I just love visionary people who make things happen!

Each night at Club Getaway (we called it "Club Party"), they had things like Karaoke and Dance Marathons. We usually opted for some late night food and then getting back to the cute Connecticut home we rented. To wrap up Day 2, we got some delicious, late night Chinese food and met yet more fellow fans there. Love small-town living! 

I was so wired from such a fantastic day that it took a while to realize how tired I was. We went home and watched some Gilmore Girls clips to look for some of the little tidbits they told us about. 

Day 3

I was so sad that things started wrapping up. I didn't want it to be over. Day 3 was Stars Hollow special, even though the festival itself was beginning to wrap up. It began with giveaways and trivia and goodbyes in the big tent. Kate answered an obscure question correctly and won a signed copy of Biff's book! They also did outdoor yoga on the Town Hall lawn. The weather this weekend was just beautiful!

Line friends waving at us
And our family waving at them!

Entertaining ourselves with selfies while waiting in the Big Tent
Procrastinating saying goodbye to our line friends
Me and my Luke!

We also got a chance to stand around and chat with Biff (Tom) and Valerie (costumer) for a while before they left for the airport. They were both so easy to talk to. Biff took a group picture with all of us, so I'm waiting on those pictures - he'll post them to Twitter. He's slowly uploading stuff there. Yes, this was our life for several days!! Hanging out with and talking with amazing Stars Hollow personalities!

We walked around town for a bit and kept running into more friends and more cast and crew members. 

Walking past the Farmer's Market

Sculpture of hiker on Appalachian Trail

Inside this AWESOME coffee and chocolate shop in town
While walking around town, we spoke with the head of the Chamber of Commerce and he was effusive about how *nice* everyone was and how he'd heard such good feedback from local businesses about all of us rabid Gilmore Girls fans. He gave us some tips on nice drives in the area and told us about some nearby scenic vistas. I'm so glad we ran into him, because we were able to visit many of the places he mentioned.

After grabbing something to eat and drink at that lovely aforementioned coffee and chocolate shop, we walked around and discovered the office area for the festival people - tons of stars and festival organizers were milling about there. We didn't impose on their time and space, but observed from a distance. 

We did spot the one cast member who was missing in our pictures - Todd Lowe (Zack, of Hep Alien fame). He was more than happy to take a picture and he shared with us that he's excited because his Astros (he pointed to his hat) made it to the World Series. Again, SUCH an easy guy to hang out with and talk to.

Our family with Todd Lowe (Zack from Gilmore Girls)

My friend got a great shot of 4 of the actors in the same area. *SWOON!*

Eric, Todd, Tanc, and Alan (Nat, Zack, Finn, and Colin)

After reluctantly pulling ourselves away from this darling and idyllic town and everyone in it, we decided to visit Washington Depot, birthplace of the Gilmore Girls setting and concept. The town of Stars Hollow is a character in and of itself and deserves as much attention as anyone else in the show.

We took some fun pictures around the house we rented and then we took the advice of the Chamber of Commerce townie and chose the scenic route. It was gorgeous. New England fall foliage in all its resplendent beauty. Just scroll through the next bit - lots of photos, no commentary.

Covered Bridge

Next up was a REAL treat for us. I was soooooo excited to see Washington Depot, CT. This town is where Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino came up with the idea of Stars Hollow, CT - the fictional setting for Gilmore Girls. Walking around Washington Depot and visiting all the landmarks that became something in Stars Hollow . . . it was magical. I mean, I was fangirling HARD. 

 The Bookstore

The Bookstore!
Gilmore Girls Display

Walking over to a darling shop filled with Stars Hollow treats

Listen to the song that started playing while we were there

Luke's Diner
Outside the inspiration for Luke's Diner

Ordering at Luke's

Food and coffee at Luke's

Weston's Bakery

Outside the inspiration for Weston's where dear Fran worked (may she rest in peace)
We seriously had so much fun traipsing around Washington Depot and visiting all the sites. We were giddy with excitement. 

Gypsy's Garage

Kate even spotted a jeep outside the garage!

Our next stop is a place I'd only seen in pictures before this trip. The first time we finished watching all of Gilmore Girls, we contemplated a trip to CT just to visit this town. And now, here we were at the Holy Grail of Gilmore Girls fandom - the breathtaking Grace Mayflower Inn. This is where Amy and Dan stayed when they were inspired with the idea of a show set in a small town where the main character runs an inn. 
The Dragonfly/Independence Inn
Can you see how excited I am?


This preparatory school was the inspiration for Chilton. Driving around the grounds was so lovely.

You can totally see the resemblance in this picture

Inside of Luke's Diner

CafĂ© on the Green is allegedly the inspiration for the inside of Luke's Diner. They're closed for renovations right now, but you can definitely see through the window that it is a lot like Luke's. We even found "April's bike helmet" outside. 

Town Church, Scenery, Town Hall 

Another shot of "Luke's" as you come down the hill from the church.

Town hall

Doose's Market

The Washington Food Market does remind us a bit of Doose's! They were closed and I couldn't find any cornstarch through the window. 

The Appalachian Trail

Next stop was the Appalachian Trail. Lorelai did "Wild" (the book, not the movie) in the revival, so the festival hosted a couple of hikes there, too. 

We celebrated this fun tour of Washington Depot/Stars Hollow with a burger and fries, because Luke's. 

Sign at the restaurant during the festival

Like I said earlier, all of this Gilmore Girls fun was bookended by a couple of college visits, one before the festival and one after. And we got to do some other fun stuff, too - Scranton, museums, and other explorations. But this festival was the high point and we all loved it so so much. We had such a great time, laughing and fangirling/fanboying and spending time in Stars Hollow with so many others who also love this show. 

We came home with a little bit of Stars Hollow (and Scranton) for our home. I miss it so much. It was a blissful and magical few days.

We got home to this adorable doggie who was ecstatic to see us (the feeling is mutual). She got to stay here at home and enjoy a sleepover with a good friend of ours who housesat/dogsat for us. That worked out really well for everyone!

La la la. La la la la la. La la laaaa-aa-a-a-aa-a-a-a-a. La la la!