Washington Depot readies for weekend of Gilmore Girls fandom

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WASHINGTON – A small town in northwestern Connecticut is gearing up for a big influx of visitors next month. Washington Depot will be hosting the sold out Gilmore Girls Fan Festival from October 21-23.

Residents of Washington understand why their small town appeals to visitors with its beauty, charm and quirks. Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was one of those visitors, and she's said it's what inspired her to create the fictional Connecticut town and setting for the series: Stars Hollow.

Fans of the show have been known to stop in Washington Depot for that reason, including two fans from Texas who wanted to make that experience even more immersive. Jennie Whitaker and her husband Marcus decided to approach the town about holding a Gilmore-themed festival.

“I think there's an opportunity for something really fun here that could benefit the town and really excite fans,” said Whitaker, co-founder of the Gilmore Girls Fan Festival.

She e-mailed Town Selectman Mark Lyon who says he was unsure about the idea. He told Fox 61 he only started considering it after Whitaker e-mailed him a second time.

Lyon spoke with the business community and the economic development committee and decided to move forward with the idea.

“I had heard of the Gilmore Girls, and that was it. I didn’t know more about it than that,” said Lyon, who now admits he’s watched eight episodes of the series.

“I asked a few people around town and they said, ‘Oh, that might be very interesting,” he said.

Whitaker has been visiting the town weekly to coordinate details and meet with business owners who are involved in the festival.

Lyon said, “We're a town of 3,700 and their first thought was to bring 3,000 people here. We had to rethink that.”

They landed on a cap of around 1,200 people. Tickets for the 3-day event went on sale in late August and sold out in less than 12 hours. General admission tickets were sold for $175 and VIP admission tickets were sold for $250

“I was amazed,” said Lyon.

Whitaker said, “I don’t think they understood the desire that was there, which I knew as a fan. There’s surely 1,200 people in this world that would love to come to this town for something that was organized.”

Several members of the Gilmore Girls cast will be in attendance. The weekend festivities include but are not limited to, a tea at the inn, a cake tasting at the market, coffee at the hardware store, a staged knit-a-thon, a Friday Night Dinner and photo opps “on the green.” There will also be screenings of the pilot, the finale and 10 of the episodes from seasons 2-6, to be voted on by festival attendees.

Some locals are concerned about crowd control and traffic, but Lyon said they are working those concerns out.

“I would say 99 percent of the business community is very excited and happy to be having this happen,” said Jay Combs, Co-Owner of Washington Supply Company, who will be taking part in the festival.

The fan festival will take place just one month before Netflix drops its much anticipated Gilmore Girls revival.

Whitaker says the event is at capacity, and although she is asked constantly she won’t be releasing any more tickets for this year’s festival. She says they are considering doing it again in the future.

She said, “The fandom group for this TV series is incredible. They’re really loyal, they’re wonderful and they’re really fun.”