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'Twilight' celebration floated for St. Helens

Event could move next year from Forks to city where movie was filmed

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT - A scene from the 2008 movie 'Twilight,' filmed in Old Town St. Helens. The historic Columbia County Courthouse and Plaza Square are visible in the background.St. Helens, where several scenes of the 2008 fantasy romance movie “Twilight” was filmed, could host a four-day celebration next year to mark the 10th anniversary of the book upon which the movie was based.

Staci Chastain, an organizer of “Stephenie Meyer Day” — named for the author of the popular “Twilight” book series, which has been adapted as a film tetrology — was in St. Helens on Thursday, Oct. 30, to pitch the idea of bringing the festival to St. Helens in 2015.

Chastain met with representatives from the business community, including people from the St. Helens Economic Development Corp., the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Best Western Oak Meadows Inn, Columbia Theatre and 13 Nights on the River, at the Kozy Korner Restaurant in St. Helens. She suggested Stephenie Meyer Day could bring tourists and visitors from the greater Portland metropolitan area to St. Helens.

“We bring a lot to the table when it comes to this event,” said Chastain.

Stephenie Meyer Day has occurred in Forks, Wash., since 2007. Chastain said she has been the main organizer since 2011.

Chastain said organizers began considering taking Stephenie Meyer Day outside of Forks, a small town on the Olympic Peninsula, after this year’s event. Forks — the hometown of Bella Swan, “Twilight’s” main protagonist — is fairly remote, she pointed out, and the festival has had trouble attracting support from businesses there.

“Being closer to an international airport, you know, transportation costs are going to be lower,” said Chastain. “We have more of a selection for hotels and restaurants and things like that. So you guys were literally our first stop on this journey that we’re deciding whether or not to take — because, of course, ‘Twilight’ was filmed here, and you guys, this area actually gave birth to what people see as ‘Twilight.’”

If partners in St. Helens can commit to providing airfare and lodging for performers and crew members, Chastain said, “Then we could make 100 percent commitment.”

Photo Credit: MARK MILLER - Staci Chastain (left) speaks during a meeting at the Kozy Korner Restaurant in St. Helens on Thursday, Oct. 30. Also pictured is Natasha Parvey (right), who works with the St. Helens Economic Development Corp.Thursday’s meeting was led by Amanda Normine, who sits on SHEDCO’s board of directors.

Normine asked whether it was possible that Stephenie Meyer, the “Twilight” author, would come to the event.

“A lot of this is going to depend on ... being able to publicize about all of this happening,” said Normine. “How confident do you feel that you would be able to get a commitment from her?”

Chastain responded that Meyer could be invited and it was possible she might attend, but told Normine, “I would not say that I could get a commitment from Stephenie Meyer. ... She’s A-lister. She does what she wants, when she wants.”

Even if Meyer does not appear, meeting attendees indicated support for potentially bringing Stephenie Meyer Day to St. Helens.

Representatives from the community concert series 13 Nights on the River, however, were skeptical the event could be organized and staged within less than a year’s time. The target dates for Stephenie Meyer Day 2015 are Sept. 10 to Sept. 13.

Kate Anicker, vendor coordinator for 13 Nights, said, “Honestly, it’s not that I don’t ever want to see it here. I think that it’s being a little bit rushed. I think that maybe you should just take a step back. It’s a huge event. I mean, we do 13 Nights, and that’s a big event, and this would be even bigger than that, or could potentially be bigger than that. ... You can’t even imagine the amount of work that we go through, and it’s not something that we rushed into.”

“It just seems like there’s some steps being missed,” added Christina Sullivan, 13 Nights’ managing director.

Chastain acknowledged that staging Stephenie Meyer Day would be “a huge commitment” and “a huge undertaking.”

Another potential obstacle is the relative paucity of lodging in St. Helens. Forks has more hotels and inns than St. Helens, and Chastain said they are often filled to capacity during Stephenie Meyer Day.

“You only have two hotels?” Chastain asked. “That’s going to be a problem.”

Gretchen Williams, marketing and sales manager at the Best Western Oak Meadows Inn, said she thinks St. Helens can make it work.

“I think that we can keep the majority of the people staying in the community, which is my goal, because you know, they’re going to go out to dinner here, they’re going to go out to breakfast,” Williams said. “I don’t want it to spread out to Hillsboro and Portland. ... One way or another, I’d like to keep as many people here. I think we’ll be able to do it.”

If Stephenie Meyer Day is organized in St. Helens, one critical component will be support from local businesses, meeting participants agreed.

“If the community does not get behind it, it will not succeed, which is what has happened in Forks,” said Chastain.

“I think that the first year would have to be scaled back,” Normine remarked. “Even though it’s the anniversary, I think we would have to be cautious.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the year Stephenie Meyer Day was started. It was first held in 2007, but Staci Chastain said she took over coordination of the event in 2011.