“Gilmore Girls” fans descend on Kent
KENT — Last year, Hayley Dunham took the day off from work to ensure she was at her computer the minute tickets went on sale for the first fan festival devoted to the long-running show “Gilmore Girls.”
But, she still wasn’t able to get one of the 1,200 passes sold for the weekend-long event in Washington Depot, the town credited with inspiring the show.
“The minute it took me to start typing in the credit card, they were sold out,” said Dunham, who has a tattoo near her wrist inspired by the show. The words, “in omnia paratus,” were made famous by members of the fictional secret society at Yale University, the lead character Rory Gilmore’s alma mater.
This March, though, Dunham waited at her computer again and was successful.
She and her mom, Susan, were two of the 1,500 fans from across the country who secured tickets for last weekend’s festival, which Dunham said might have been because the festival moved to a larger space in Kent.
“Gilmore Girls,” which aired from 2000 to 2007 on the WB network, followed the relationship between a single mother and her teenage daughter in a small Connecticut town. It had a strong following that has only grown in the years since it went off the air, thanks to the show’s syndication and a four-episode revival released last November on Netflix.
This year’s festival kicked off Friday morning when flocks of fans, many wearing Gilmore-inspired shirts, sweatshirts and even homemade buttons, gathered at the town’s center to check in for the three-day event.
Many fans, even those who didn’t come as a pair like the Dunhams, said the mother-daughter element in the show was a main reason it was special to them.
“I see a lot of mothers and daughters and it makes me think of (my daughter),” said Diane Fuller, who came from Bedford, N.Y., to volunteer at the festival. “It was our tradition. She’d say ‘Mom, the Gilmore Girls are on’ and we’d go sit down and watch it.”
The weekend’s schedule included panels with members of the cast and crew, screenings of important episodes and activities inspired by the show at local businesses.
Some fans traveled from as far as Kansas or California to celebrate the show, many saying they were excited to get a taste of the small town life they had watched in “Gilmore Girls.”
The Dunhams even said they chose their home in Brunswick, Maine, when moving from Massachusetts a few years ago, because it reminded them so much of the show’s fictional town of Stars Hollow.
“It’s like every town USA,” Susan Dunham said. “It’s what you want your town to be.”
Emelie Burl, a Washington Depot native who volunteered at the festival both years, said “Gilmore Girls” tourists often visited the town before the festival began. But the number of fans who visit the area has increased over the last few years, she added.
Stacey Grimsley, owner of SoDelicious Bakery, said she noticed a resurgence of people in Kent watching the show once they heard they’d be hosting the festival this year.
Burl and Grimsley said they were pleased to get involved because of the featival’s positive atmosphere.
“This is a blast and I’m a fan of the show,” Burl said. “It’s like 1,500 of the happiest people in the world in one weekend.”