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Inside The Connecticut Town That Inspired Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow

The Washington Supply Company in Washington Depot, Conn.

The fictional town of Stars Hollow is the backdrop of the cult TV show Gilmore Girls. But Stars Hollow is based on the real town of Washington, Connecticut – and Washington will be the site of a three-day Gilmore Girls fan festival this weekend in anticipation of the show’s return in November.

The show's bed and breakfast was inspired by Washington’s Mayflower Grace Inn. Manager Monica Neumann says the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, hatched the idea during a weekend stay there.

“She was really just captivated by the feel of the inn, and the town of Washington, which is very much a small country town,” Neumann says.

With 58 acres, including a spa and a Shakespeare Garden, the Mayflower Grace has a bit more of a luxurious, classical feeling than the fictional Dragonfly Inn.

“I think it’s certainly one of an English country house, or in our case a Connecticut country house,” Neumann says.

There’s a locally owned grocery store and a diner filled with regulars here, too, just like in the show. Neumann says Washington is the kind of place where you see your neighbors on the street, day in, day out, just like Stars Hollow.

“It is a little bit of a step back in time,” she says. “It refreshes and revives you and restores your faith in the community and communal living.”

But Stars Hollow has a certain brand of eccentricity that might not exist anywhere in real life. It’s the kind of place that has a wandering town troubadour with a guitar. When a second troubadour shows up to challenge him, he gets so mad he takes it up at a town meeting.

“Not to get myself in trouble with anybody here locally, but we have very interesting people in Washington also,” says Washington First Selectman Mark Lyon. He didn’t know anything about Gilmore Girls – not even its connection to Washington – until he got a call from a fan who wanted to organize the festival.

“I’ll admit that I have watched six episodes now,” Lyon says. “And while I don’t recognize myself or anybody in particular, it portrays Stars Hollow as a caring community where people know each other. And we have some idiosyncrasies, all of us do.”

Lyon thinks eventually the hubbub around the show and the festival will quiet down, and things will go back to how they’ve pretty much always been.

“The land of steady habits can be pretty well defined by Washington,” he says. “It may have an effect, but I don’t see any big dramatic changes. I mean, the town will continue on.”

Stars Hollow might only be loosely based on Washington, but fans at this weekend’s Gilmore Girls festival might see more similarities than usual. The organizers say a lot of Stars Hollow institutions will make an appearance – including, of course, a town troubadour.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.
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