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At ‘Gilmore Girls’ Festival, Fans Revel In Conn. Charm

Over the weekend thousands of fans of the cult TV show Gilmore Girls filled the town of Washington, Connecticut – the inspiration for the show’s fictional town of Stars Hollow. Gilmore Girls tells the story of mother and daughter Lorelei and Rory Gilmore, who live in a small town full of eccentric characters.

Organizer Jennie Whitaker thought a festival would be a good idea. So she called the town’s first selectman.

“I didn’t have a clue that town selectman was a real title,” she says. “I actually thought it was just a made-up word on a show.”

The first selectman liked the idea, and agreed on a three-day festival for 1,500 fans. Whitaker came to Washington to pitch the idea to local businesses. Most of them hadn’t heard of the show.

“They said, ‘Do you think we’ll sell 200 tickets?’ When we sold it out in a day, they were really shocked,” she says.

Eventually most of the business community got on board – people like David Sedelnick. He and his wife own a local hardware store. Groups of tourists stream in by the minute on the festival’s first day. David, dressed as Luke, the diner owner on the show and Lorelei’s love interest, meets them with a cup of coffee. He wears a backwards baseball cap and a blue flannel shirt.

“My wife took me out for dinner one night, and I got smashed, and next thing I know I had this costume on!” he jokes as he poses for pictures with fans.

He’s a recent convert to Gilmore Girls, thanks to his wife. But he’s fallen in love with the show, and he’s having the time of his life at the festival.

“Just in my own hometown and I feel like I’m the one that’s traveling around the world with all the people coming here to visit,” he says. “They’re all coming in droves.”

Sabrina Hancock is here from North Carolina with her husband. As a hardcore Gilmore Girls fan, this festival is heaven to her.

“Look, I got my Gilmore Girls shirt on, I got my Luke’s earrings, I got my Rory bracelet, I’m like so stoked to be here,” she says.

Hancock gets her picture taken with Sedelnick in his Luke costume, then sips her coffee and browses the shop. This is her first time in New England, and she loves it.

“The leaves are just beautiful,” she says. “We’ve been to the Gilmore Girls tent over there, took a picture of town hall. Everybody’s been super nice and welcoming to all of this crowd of people in this little town. I know that’s a lot of deal with.”

Jennie Whitaker, the organizer, says she’d love to do another festival next year if the fans and the locals are interested. As for the show itself, it will return – as a Netflix miniseries in November.

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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