Stars Hollow, the picturesque setting of the TV show The Gilmore Girls is practically a character of its own. Close-knit (sometimes to a fault), the fictional New England town is filled with lovable oddballs who gossip over coffee, bicker at town meetings, and make viewers wonder if there's anything remotely like it in the real world.
The answer is ... sort of.
Stars Hollow is based on a real New England town — Washington, Conn. — where show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, hatched the idea during a weekend stay. With a revival planned in late November, some fans are making a pilgrimage to Washington on October 21 for the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest.
In case you haven't seen it, Gilmore Girls follows the story of mother/daughter best friends Lorelai and Rory. Lorelai is the proprietor of The Dragonfly Inn, which was inspired by Washington's Mayflower Grace Inn. It was here where Sherman-Palladino came up with the idea for the show.
"She was really just captivated by the feel of the inn, and the town of Washington, which is very much a small country town," says Mayflower manager Monica Neumann.
There's a locally-owned grocery store and a diner in Washington, too, just like the show. Neumann says it's a town where people see their neighbors on the street every day.
"It is a little bit of a step back in time," Neumann explains. "It refreshes and revives you and restores your faith in the community."
But Stars Hollow has a level of quirk that maybe no real town can match. There's a wandering town troubadour, a local dance teacher who knows everybody's business, a crotchety grocery owner, not to mention frequent town meetings, a knitathon festival and a dance marathon.
Mark Lyon is Washington's First Selectman. He says he didn't know anything about Gilmore Girls -- not even its connection to Washington, Conn. — until he got a call from someone who wanted to organize a three-day festival for fans. Since then, he's watched six episodes.
"While I don't recognize myself or anybody in particular, it portrays Stars Hollow as a caring community where people know each other," he says. "And we have some idiosyncrasies, all of us do."
Lyon says not everybody's happy about all the attention from outsiders — people here value their privacy. But he thinks the hubbub 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. "I don't see any big dramatic changes. I mean, the town will continue on."
But this weekend, the town's offering fans some familiar sights from the fictional Stars Hollow — including, of course, a town troubadour.