Where we led, 4,500 Gilmore Girls fans followed—that is, straight to Cascade Plaza on Main Street in downtown Akron, where people from at least 8 US states enjoyed the wandering musical stylings of town troubadours, had their fortunes told by Doggy Swami, watched silent films at the Black-White-Read Bookstore, sampled all the caffeinated beverages their hearts desired, and even got to play rock-paper-scissors with an actor from their favorite show.
The all-day event, inspired by Amy Sherman-Palladino’s comedy-drama television series, began at noon and ran until 6 pm. In honor of the quirky, mellow, festive atmosphere encompassing the fictional town of Stars Hollow, the already inviting plaza was decked out in cornstalks, straw bales, pumpkins and gourds, paper snowflakes, twinkling lights, a snow machine, and several photo stations loosely modeled after signs and scenes from the show. It was rimmed with tents where people could shop and take part in both free and paid activities, flanked by delightfully greasy foods and hot coffee on Main Street, and posted with clues for people to identify on a Gilmore-themed bingo card for prizes. Close by, at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, the TechZone held a free button-making activity, as they did in 2022.
Visitors enjoyed performances by local band Wishgarden, who performed songs from the show and other popular covers, as well as Jul Big Green, who showcased a mix of covers and original creations. Nearby, in a tent designated for festive activities, Da’Shika Street of Street Craftery led a holiday ornament-making workshop, and later in the day, 200 fans gathered for Gilmore Girls trivia. Another major highlight was our first-ever Luke-Alike contest, where members of the crowd were nominated by our staff for their likeness to Luke Danes, the loveable curmudgeon of a diner owner in Gilmore Girls. Contestants headed head to the stage and competed with their best Luke impressions for a chance at prizes. People of all ages and genders participated, and the winners impressed the crowd and judges alike.
15 local coffee shops, trucks, and trailers took part in this year’s coffee festival, and sold everything from classic black coffee to specialty drinks like maple salted caramel lattes in smoked cups. Other beverages—namely, Miss Patty’s Punch (a spiked cranberry mule) and the Lorelai Special (spiked peppermint hot chocolate)—were available at The Shed, which DAP operates as a small concession stand and bar during large events. The festival’s coffee vendors were perfect complements to the five food trucks and tents that were present. Additionally, 18 retail vendors set up shop with a wide array of goods for the crowd to peruse, like books, vintage items, candles, art, crystals, clothing, mugs, soaps, packaged desserts, and more.
We were extremely honored and excited to welcome a special guest to the 2023 event—John Cabrera, who fans recognized for his role as Brian Fuller, member of the fictional band Hep Alien. John, who is also the cofounder of Remarkist, a fandom app, spent much of the afternoon meeting and greeting fans, signing autographs, and even playing rock-paper-scissors with visitors. Around 5 pm, he took to the stage for a live Q&A session, where he shared memories from his time on Gilmore Girls, his impressions of Akron, and his take on the future of fandom.
This year’s event filled us with pride and optimistic anticipation of what’s to come in the future of the Smells Like Snow Coffee Festival. As always, it is heartening to witness the sheer number of people who may not often come to downtown Akron—and in this case, people who may not even live in Ohio—experience the vibrancy and uniqueness of the neighborhood. We look forward to many more years of sharing a love of coffee and Gilmore Girls with those who celebrate. Save the date for next year’s festival: Saturday, November 2, 2024.