Last year I took my first getaway to Ogunquit, Maine, a small seaside town in New England. I fell in love with the area, but what brought me there in the first place? A longtime love… Gilmore Girls.
Gilmore Girls is my favorite TV show. This story of three generations of strong women set in a fictional New England town full of unique characters is comforting to me. It feels like a perfect place where everyone is accepted, and it is an ideal slice of American life.
In 2016, The Fan Fest Society started inviting fans and stars of the show to a New England town to bring Gilmore Girls to life.
I have had run-ins with celebrities, from seeing Anne Hathaway multiple times in Iceland to seeing Matthew Modine walking down the street in Los Angeles. But I am not someone that ever bothers them. And I have never thought about going to a Comic Con because I wouldn’t say I like lines and crowds, and waiting hours to meet a star doesn’t interest me. But I was intrigued by last year’s setting of Ogunquit, and when a friend invited me to go, I couldn’t pass up the chance to immerse myself in all things Gilmore.
What is a Gilmore Girls fan festival like? I mentioned the festival in my Ogunquit blog post and had multiple requests to let you know about it, so here I go.
A Gilmore Girls Fan Fest Experience
Imagine being dropped into Stars Hallow, surrounded by people you know, in a fall-color-enhanced adorable New England town. That is precisely what the Gilmore Fan Fest feels like.
The main action of the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest happened at the Leavitt Theater, but occurrences happened all over this cute town. It is past the town’s primary tourist season, so almost everyone milling about is Gilmore Girls-interested. The theater seats 525 people, so the group ensembled isn’t too big, so you recognize people as you walk around town. Not only that, but many of the festival attendees return annually, so they have formed a family into which they quickly accept you.
People come from all over the world for the festival. One fabulous way the organizers invite interaction of attendees is with a trinket exchange. Anyone who chooses to participate brings a couple of hundred things, either Gilmore-related or related to where you are from.
My friend and I gave anchor cookies as a Rhode Island-themed gift, and we received seeds, stickers, pins, and many state-specific food items. I finally tried Malomar cookies and now understand why Lorelai loves them.
There are organized events such as cast panels, games, music shows, games, themed days, costume parties, and trivia- all Gilmore Girls themed. Surrounding the festival was a play including much of the cast.
Of course, one of the highlights of a fan festival is meeting the Gilmore Girls cast. Last year the cast attendees were Shelly Cole (Madeline), Nick Holmes (Robert), Liz Torres (Ms. Patty), Devon Michaels (Bill), Stan Zimmerman (writer), Sheila Lawrence (writer), Aris Alvarado (Caesar), Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim), Valerie Campbell (costumes), Carla, McCloskey (1st AD), Devon Sorvari (Honor), Rini Bell (Lulu), Kathleen Wilhoite (Liz), and Max (Scott Cohen)!
Although you can meet everyone at designated meeting times, they also spend the weekend in the same town and seem into the experience as much as the fans are. Many of my photos were taken with the cast as I met them on the street. Even if I waited in line, I didn’t wait more than half an hour and was kept busy interacting with other attendees.
If they run a small business, there are also chances to try their products, such as Valerie’s homemade ice cream and Rini’s soaps.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend that brought all the Gilmore feels I had hoped for. I am planning to return this coming fall.
Have you been to a fan fest? Who would you most like to meet from the Gilmores? What is your favorite Gilmore moment?
Buy your 2023 Fan Fest tickets now. See you in Ogunquit!