Gilmore Girls Fan Fest 2017: Was It Worth It?

By Sarah Pfeffer (Special Guest Blogger)

Sarah Pfeffer, a local resident of Kent, Connecticut, takes you on a virtual tour of the festival and even provides a pros/cons list in her conclusion, Rory Gilmore-style.

Over 1,500 visitors arrived for the second year of the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest, this time in the small, very Stars Hollow-y town of Kent, Connecticut. This was especially exciting because Kent is my hometown! As you may have seen, I wrote a post about Stars Hollow vs. Real Life previously, so the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest was a cool way to see Stars Hollow come to life even more than it already does in Kent.

Since I live in Kent year round and I’m also a Gilmore Girls fan, it was only natural to attend the festivities! It was really interesting (and a bit shocking, but in a good way) to see so many tourists milling around town and even using pathways that are normally deserted. There’s actually a lot more space here than I even knew!

Knit-a-Thon – Luke was there, but no sign of Christopher…

My first stop was at the Town Hall for the Knit-a-Thon and I began to feel some very “Knit, People, Knit!” episode vibes, although it was indoors.

Knitters were focused and didn’t seem to notice my presence when I walked in. Grease played on a big screen and ladies were paired up, chatting together and attending to their needlework. I saw a couple of knitters dressed up as Luke…though I’m not sure how he would feel about participating in an event like that!

Dessert Sushi – No Sookie Required

Next was a stop at the small tent for Dessert Sushi contests with Mike Gandalfi (Andrew on Gilmore Girls) and Woman’s Day Magazine. Although I missed the winners, I did find a couple of super-dedicated sushi-makers who didn’t care if they hadn’t finished in time; it was all about the process! Just like Lorelai’s Asian-themed party for Rory when the Asia trip with Logan was canceled, sometimes, all you need is a gal pal and a creative sugar fest to pass the time!

Miss Patty at the Dance Studio!

There was a long line to catch one of the two performances by Kent’s own Starr’s Dance Studio, attended by Miss Patty herself, Liz Torres. I have to say, it was worth the wait! Starr’s performers were joyful and danced their hearts out. Miss Patty was proud (Torres made it a point that it was okay to call her that!), and she could be seen clapping, grooving to the music, and yelling out sassy phrases such as, “Get it, get it”, “Alllllright!”, “What? No twerking?”, and “Here they come!” Besides the lucky attendees who waited in line long enough to nab seats, it was standing room only at this event. Of all the experiences at this festival, I have to say that this event felt the most like I was experiencing life as a resident of Stars Hollow. It was just like a scene out of the show!

Even better, before the fan meet-and-greet, Ms. Torres made it a point to request a private audience with the young dancers. They gathered in a circle around her and she gave them advice on showing real emotion and looking up to the sky and seeing God when they danced. She also applauded the one boy in the group for being so brave to choose dancing instead of another sport.

Could it be that Liz Torres really is like “Miss Patty” in real life?

Fans Got to Rub Shoulders with Mrs. Kim!

I think one of the things that makes this event so cool is that cast members walk amongst the fans as if they are fellow Stars Hollow townspeople. Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim) is a DELIGHT! She was having the grandest time outside of Koblenz & Co. Antique & Estate Jewelry, meeting fans, signing books, and posing for photos. As friendly as she truly is in real life, she was happy to do Mrs. Kim impressions and yell at fans upon request. It was hilarious!

Mrs. Kim (Emily Kuroda) said she was thirsty and a fan ran up to give her a giant lemonade fruit drink. She was so grateful and took a big gulp!


There were also several types of tea available for attendees, but I’m not sure they were presented the way Mrs. Kim would have approved. She would have wanted a more formal presentation.

The Secret Bar – Not So Secret After All

I have to say that the “secret” bar was so easy to find, I thought the actual Secret Bar must have been located somewhere else. The bar did offer some cool local Kent town-themed cocktails like the “Kent’s Very Own Founder’s Day Punch” with a mix of vodka or rum, tea, cranberry, lemon, and mint…as well as the “Main Street Margarita” with the addition of orange juice. Of course, it was cash only, which felt very Stars Hollow. I ended up getting various the free drink samples at other stations nearby. All in all, I have to say the Secret Bar was not as cool as I wanted it to be.

Cast Panel – A Stars Hollow Town Meeting

Kim Roots of TV Line acted as moderator in the fabulous cast panel with Rose Abdoo (Gypsy/Berta), Keiko Agena (Lane), Aris Alvarado (Caesar), Rini Bell (Lulu), Mike Gandolfi (Andrew), Eric Henry, Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim), Alan Loayza, Todd Lowe (Zack), Sam Pancake, Tanc Sade, Liz Torres (Miss Patty) and Biff Yeager.

Highlights included:

  • Gilmore Girls theme-singer Louise Goffin leading a sing-a-long of “Where You Lead,” joined on stage with the hugging and singing cast
  • Todd Lowe playing “Yesterday” by the Beatles on the guitar while Torres made her as-expected larger-than-life entrance singing along
  • Mrs. Kim saying, “That was NOT what I was expecting!” regarding Mr. Kim’s appearance in the Netflix revival. “I met him when I was in the tambourine band,” she added to mouth-over-hand shock from Keiko Agena and thunderous applause and laughter from the audience.
  • Keiko talking about her relationship with her on-screen mom, Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim): “I love her; we hang out all the time!”
  • A surprise video call from Lauren Graham herself! Of course, thunderous applause and excited cheering abounded, but the connection wasn’t great. Still, she managed to get across a special message to attendees: “You guys are so much fun. I love you so much. I can’t believe you’re all here; that is so cool…have a great time!”

Gilmore Girls Costumes

Let’s not pretend that Lorelai and Rory (well, at least Lorelai) would not be super into the costume element of this type of event. Lorelai is known for dressing for the occasion (or horribly missing the mark, eh hem, “The Lorelais First Day at Chilton”).

A sea of plaid made its way around the streets of Kent as various iterations of Luke went about their business. Even one of the vendors dressed up as Luke and served apple cider, which I found very fitting. The funny part was that I spoke to some locals who didn’t even notice the plaid! That should tell you how far into L.L. Bean country we are and how accurate Luke’s costume choices were to the New England area.

Besides the Lukes, there were some great Sookies, Jacksons, Rorys, Lorelais, and Gypsys! I didn’t get a chance to catch them all, but I got a few cute photos. Among the reported best costumes included a person who actually made a cardboard cutout of Lorelai’s Jeep to walk around in, Lorelai and Emily from the Pageant, someone dressed up as “the devil’s starchy fingers” (known as french fries according to Mrs. Kim) and a human-sized takeout box from Al’s Pancake World.

Goodie Bags and Tee Shirts – Perks of Being a Fan

Even though they didn’t have my size left by the time I arrived (they only had large), I’m really digging the tee shirt for the event. It is super soft and in a really pretty color that I think probably looks good on everyone! Each guest also received a goodie bag filled with popular and obscure Gilmore-related treats like Red Vines, Pesek Zman elite chocolates (huh?), Black Forest Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, Nerds, Trolli, Crisp Apple Sparkling Ice drink, vanilla and patchouli aromatherapy essential oil body wash, and even a flyer from the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) . I imagine that the last addition was Emily’s idea (BEFORE she quit like the rock star she is).

Fall Foliage and Decor

I think Taylor Doose would approve of the spooky Halloween-themed decorations, as well as the pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, and Fall wreaths that were placed on businesses around town. Each year, Kent businesses take pride in their scary Halloween displays (see examples here, here, and here on the Kent Chamber of Commerce Facebook page).

The weather was absolutely PERFECT and gorgeous, ranging from the 60s and 70s down to the 50s Fahrenheit from day to night, and although the trees hadn’t completely turned, there were plenty of warm majestic colors to be seen across the countryside. Attendees who were not accustomed to this East Coast season change were surely treated to quite the display of nature’s wonder.

A Real Life Stars Hollow Community

The Fan Fest really showed me that a small town community comes from more than just a place; it’s all about the townspeople. The fans who came from places as far as Texas, Alaska, and even Holland (and those were only people I spoke to, or heard about!) all attended because Stars Hollow means something to them. It was amazing how fans were so friendly to one another, getting into conversation with ease while waiting in line, bumping into each other on the sidewalk, or taking a coffee break. Kent became Stars Hollow because the people of Stars Hollow came to Kent. *Commence warm and fuzzy feeling.*

Local jewelry-maker Rosemary Frattura-Zibell proudly displays her pieces for sale.

Fans came prepared with Gilmore Girls (and Jared Padalecki / Supernatural) themed gear.

The Kent Farmer’s Market offered fresh, organic vegetables that may have even rivaled Jackson’s produce!

Visitors peruse Kent Memorial Library’s outdoor book sale.

Conclusion: Was the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest Worth It?

This is a question I have been wrestling with over the past few days. So, naturally, like Rory Gilmore, I’m going to make a Pro / Con list.

Pros Cons
  • GREAT LOCATION, idyllic New England setting (I may be biased, but I think Kent, CT is the BEST!)
  • Perfect size – just enough people to make it exciting and fun, but not so many that it’s crowded
  • Cast members walk around town and interact directly with attendees!
  • Great community feeling amongst fellow Gilmore fans
  • Very Gilmore-esque events; great combo of small town activities and opportunities to meet cast members
  • Lots of food and drink options from vendors, plus some free samples
  • Free coffee stations provided by the Kent Chamber of Commerce
  • Hefty price tag of $250 per ticket, plus a $25 name change fee if you choose to transfer the ticket to someone else
  • Long lines at some events, particularly ones with opportunities to meet the cast
  • More long lines for bathrooms
  • The “Secret Bar” was not that exciting and cash only (although, would I expect anything less in Stars Hollow?)

I could go on, but it’s clear that there are more pros than cons. As a resident of Kent, I loved having all of the visitors come and take in all the town has to offer. Everyone seemed to be very charmed by Kent, which was just one more reminder to me of why I love living here. So, if you consider yourself a true Gilmore Girls fan and can afford the cost of a ticket, I can say with confidence that you would enjoy the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest.

Cheers,
Sarah

Local Resident of Kent, CT

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