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'Twilight' event gets green light

SHEDCO agrees to sponsor event if organizers raise $10k by March 2015

Organizers are moving toward staging an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the release of “Twilight,” the vampire romance novel that became a bestseller, next September in St. Helens.

A concept for the event presented by Amanda Normine, a board member at the St. Helens Economic Development Corp., was approved by the SHEDCO board at a meeting Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Best Western Oak Meadows Inn in St. Helens.

However, the SHEDCO board added a stipulation for its sponsorship: “Twilight in St. Helens” organizers must raise half of their proposed budget of $20,000 by the end of February.

Normine said that requirement should not be a problem.

“The targets for that first round of funding is all sponsorship funds both local and big business,” she wrote in an email Monday. “We are strategizing on that now, but SHEDCO’s requirements for funding by 2/28 is in line with where we believe we needed to be to pull this off anyway.”

The event Normine and a small circle of organizers from SHEDCO and local businesses are planning is called “Stephenie Meyer Day,” after the author of the Twilight series. It scheduled for Sept. 10 through Sept. 13.

The Olympic Coven, a group of actors who have been participating in Stephenie Meyer Day events in Forks, Wash., for the past few years, are intended to be the main attraction. The performers portray characters from the Twilight series.

Staci Chastain, an organizer of Stephenie Meyer Day in Forks and the coordinator for the Olympic Coven, approached Normine and other members of the St. Helens business community last month to explore the idea of moving her events to St. Helens next year.

While the Twilight in St. Helens group has welcomed Chastain’s involvement, Normine has said she still wants the Twilight event to be planned locally.

“I think I speak for the feelings of all of us in the fact that we are extremely excited about a few things that they bring to the table but also cautious about where they aren’t necessarily well suited to take the lead,” Normine wrote in her Monday email.

Normine said the Olympic Coven group is “great” at drawing visitors and providing interactive entertainment but added she has heard negative feedback about more ambitious events Chastain organized in Forks.

“We need to be cautiously optimistic and realize who is best for what in this partnership,” she wrote.

Chastain is one of several people who have staged Stephenie Meyer Day events in Forks, where the four-day celebration originated.

“Bringing Stephenie Meyer Day to St. Helens is an ideal way to continue to innovate and create something new for Twilight fans, with the added benefit of introducing Twilight fans to St. Helens, a town that has been integral to bringing the series to life for so many people,” Chastain explained in an email Sunday. “Furthermore, St. Helens has several organizations in place that can plan, stage and fund events, which is an infrastructure we don’t have in Forks.”

St. Helens was one of the filming locations for the 2008 movie adaptation of “Twilight.” Filming also took place in Vernonia, standing in for Forks, where much of the story is set.

Forks will continue to host its own Stephenie Meyer Day in 2015, according to the Forks Chamber of Commerce.

Although Liz Esposito, a SHEDCO coordinator, said earlier this month that she does not anticipate a competition between St. Helens and Forks over Twilight tourism next September, Normine told the Spotlight she expects an “exodus” of people from Forks to St. Helens.

“I have already heard from a handful of people who have confirmed they are coming if we take the venue,” Normine wrote in an email Friday, “so that is exciting.”

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