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Ten Years of Twilight: Visit to Forks, Washington

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The welcome sign greeting visitors to Forks, Wash., taken during a visit to the town on March 29, 2015. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Stephenie Meyer received $750,000 for a three-book deal from Little, Brown and Company after her Twilight manuscript was rejected by 14 publishers. Her story with its fated leads, Edward Cullen, a vampire, and Bella Swan, a mortal human, expanded into what became the Twilight Saga, spanning three other books and a novella. The first book in the series, Twilight, was released on Oct. 5, 2005, and went on to change the lives of residents of the real-life town where Meyer’s saga is set: Forks, Washington.

Residents of the small town of 3,349 people had no idea their small town would be invaded by thousands of “Twihards” desperately seeking to experience Edward and Bella’s world; a world that went on to net $3,345,177,904 in gross sales for the saga’s film adaptations, holds the top five places of the highest grossing vampire movies and has sold over 100 million books worldwide in 37 languages. But how has the Twilight Saga’s success affected such a close knit community and its residents?

Before we determine an answer, first we need a baseline: what was Forks was like pre-Twilight? Before being overrun with vampires and Twihards, the secluded town was financially dependent on the logging and timber industry until the 1990s:

Timber harvest fell dramatically on public lands, which many smaller companies and independent loggers relied on: The allowable cut in Olympic National Forest plummeted from 250 million board feet a year in the 1980s to 10 million board feet after the owl’s listing, and by 1994 2.4 million acres of Washington forests were closed to logging. This was followed by protections for threatened and endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead beginning in 1999.

Fortunately Forks had other revenue streams to rely on:

Forks also hosts tourists, many on their way to the national park. Two new motels and nine bed-and-breakfasts opened between 1995 and 2005, and on a summer weekend every room in town can fill up.

As you can see by the statistics below, the visitor counts increased in summer months (June–August) compared to the rest of the year:

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Extract from a “Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center Count” document covering 1997–2005. Forwarded in e-mail by Lissy Andros, Forks Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, on March 19, 2015.

The town was—and still is—marketed as an outdoor tourist haven. According to a brochure issued by the Forks Chamber of Commerce:

The stunning natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula’s West End provides the backdrop for a number of activities available in a relatively small area. Imagine being able to explore a pristine wild beach, walk a lush rain forest trail, kayak or fish in a world-famous river, and hike in a world-class national park in the course of just a few days. A visit to Forks puts all this at your finger tips.

Another interesting snippet from the same brochure is bragging rights for the amount of rain this little bit of camper’s paradise gets annually; “twelve feet” to be exact. This warranted further investigation and it turns out Forks gets an average of 210 days of rain per year and an average of 119 inches. The town’s gloomy weather is actually the reason why Stephenie Meyer chose Forks as her saga’s setting:

For my setting, I knew I needed someplace ridiculously rainy. I turned to Google, as I do for all my research needs, and looked for the place with the most rainfall in the U.S. This turned out to be the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I pulled up maps of the area and studied them, looking for something small, out of the way, surrounded by forest… And there, right where I wanted it to be, was a tiny town called “Forks.”

I checked out Forks’ distance from me on Google: it was only about a five hour drive from Vancouver, which was doable. It looked like the only way to get a deeper understanding of the saga’s affect on the town was to visit Forks in person.

I emailed the Forks Chamber of Commerce for an information packet on Jan. 14, 2015. That same day, I received a reply from Lissy Andros, the chamber’s Executive Director. I asked if I could set up an interview with her. I also contacted Bryon Monohan, the mayor of Forks, on Jan. 14, 2015 and requested a meeting.

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Contents from an information packet I received from the Forks Chamber of Commerce. The brochures and pamphlets inside the packet emphasised outdoor activities—Experience ‘Twilight’ on the North Olympic Peninsula was the only item that explicitly drew attention to the town’s connection to Twilight. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

I was upfront about my intentions and both people were very receptive to my request and agreed to meet with me. One quote that stood out to me from the beginning, and gave me an inside peek into the soul of Forks as a community, was in an email from Bryon on Jan. 15, 2015:

One of my role models early on with Twilight was to not end up like Cle Elum, Washington still clinging to Northern Exposure long after it was gone so we have always been pretty conscious about not letting this whole thing change us. We’ve been pretty successful at that although it has easily let us move on to an episode of Top Gear and now the Mick Dodge phenomenon. We have had some issues integrating some of the folks that came for Twilight and have attempted to stay. Some have been very successful and others lasted a weekend. Many of the Twilight fans continue to come back to enjoy the area. I personally don’t know if I miss the busyness of the whole era but the fans were really wonderful people and I don’t think a city could ever hope for more. Their good will and warm thoughts will always stay with us. I also spent a very pleasant hour with Stephenie Meyer in 2013 that will remain a treasure.

After some carefully planning an itinerary, my other half and I packed our bags and headed on a road trip to Forks, Washington on March 28, 2015.

Seattle Stop-Off: Meeting the Mayor of Forks

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Mayor of Forks, Bryon Monohan, with wife Beautrice, at Traveler Montlake, Seattle, Wash., March 28, 2015. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Due to scheduling conflicts with Bryon we had to meet him in Seattle. We checked into the Sheraton Bellevue Hotel (100 112th Ave NE, Bellevue) dropped our bags off and headed to Pike Place Market (Seattle), hoping to hit up a couple of shops. Sadly, the info I got off the website was wrong and they were closed so we wondered around downtown, debating where to eat.

Instead of a restaurant, we met up with Bryon earlier than planned in a pub called Traveler Montlake (2307 24th Ave E, Seattle). It was a lively joint, and I had the best veggie sliders made with chickpeas and garlic mayo accompanied with some fancy water in a clear wine bottle.

Bryon greeted me with a business card and a couple Forks town pins. He definitely knew how to speak like a politician, but one with a heart that cared for his residents and concern for his community’s image:

We were blessed because Stephenie [Meyer] did such a good job. She did no harm to the community in the book and I think that’s one of the things that jumped at me very quickly because I’ve read a lot of books set in the local regions and they are usually, and especially with Forks we’ve got a lot of bad publicity. And all of a sudden I’m looking at this book saying hey, she took this stuff off the internet and didn’t do us any harm and that was the moment where I think we knew something was coming.

Interestingly enough, the mayor revealed himself to be a closet vampire fan—but not of the obvious Forks choice: “I was always kind of a big Dark Shadows fan. At times I wanted to put a cut out of Barnabas Collins in the back and put ‘Don’t you remember me? I’m the vampire.’ ”

To enhance the fan experience, the town replicated certain locations from the films and Bryon’s interactions with fans were more intimate than most residents because he lives right next door to a house that looked close enough to be called the “Swan” residence:

It really made an impact on the tourists, one way or another, we just labeled things of places in the book. I mean kitty corner behind my place we took the signs down now, but we had The Swan house. And people it didn’t matter to the fans, they came looking for stuff, and it was close enough that it worked. We had the Cullen House and the Swan House. We’ve got lots of lasting memories sitting in the living room, the tour bus at times would put me on their route, and they’d drive by in front of the house and I’d kind of look up and the tour bus would be there and I’d wave to people and everyone would wave back.

The town didn’t seem to get the hardcore vampire role-players or self-identified vampires, it was almost a different kind of animal:

We didn’t really get much in the way of vampire interests, there were some folks I would call more hardcore vampire folk and a couple of more into piercing and tattoos kind of culture, but not a lot. Just a very small bit that I ever saw and I don’t think that anybody or everybody got all that worked up over the fact that well they’re vampires sort of thing. Just because of the sense of the story it’s like what the hell they sparkle and can be out in the daylight. You know in that sense it’s really kind of stretched the rules here. We had a fake Edward for about a year, he was a nice enough guy, but he let it go to his head.

The vampire story created some tension from a religious aspect for some residents:

The other thing we treaded very well, and I’m happy with where we came through, was the Christian response on it. Because this is the kind of thing that’s just ripe for far right wing conservative Christians to go ballistic on. One of the senior guys, and our senior Christian elders of the community early on wrote a letter to the editor of the paper and said you know this is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to meet people, to talk to people, to share who we are, what we are because we do have something pretty unique going on in town. So that calmed that element down a lot. I was able to calm them down and a few others. They needed to know they didn’t need to be out picketing and waving signs and chasing vampire fans down.

According to Bryon, not all fan interactions were favourable:

The tourists on a whole, the visitors were wonderful. The only time it got weird was when we had people that got too ramped up and I don’t think they got their own boundaries clear. It showed up at a football game, the first home football game, and it was probably three years ago, which was the same weekend as Stephenie Meyer Day. Everyone’s concentrating on the game and the kids are down below, and there’s a girl down below going I’m in Twilight. And she’s got the role model cloths on and she’s parading around down below, kind of making a spectacle of herself. And everyone is going great that’s fine, that’s nice, but we’re living our lives here. We’re watching a game, doing our own thing. There were a few other local lash outs at one point and time. I know the little kids in the street behind me one time chalked in the middle of the road, “It’s just a book duh!”

I guess in a small town what they consider a “lash out” and what we do in the big city are totally different. I think criminal activity or something extreme would qualify. According to Bryon the extent of criminal activity in Forks was quite minor:

We had typical drunken shenanigans at the Twilight Bar, but those were almost all locals. One time, right at the end of the height of it, so we’re probably at 2011. After Stephenie Meyer day I had some people looked like gang bangers in town and pulled a gun on somebody. Other than that, that was it. No issues. We had problems with the Twilight folks, getting into the Twilight themed rooms [in the hotel] and stealing stuff out of the rooms. That was a problem.

Many people came to Forks for Twilight and ended up finding so much more:

We became a lot of people’s home town away from home. We became kind of the typical small American home town that people didn’t have. So what we had was people came for Twilight once and had a good time. They came for Twilight twice and had a good time. By that time some of the enamorment is wearing off and life is going on and they started realizing the national parks here. The beaches here, the mountains are here, and so now they come back to town. They have been here enough that a lot of folks recognize us and we recognize them and they’re kind of like locals coming back for a period of time.

Many people come to Forks annually for Forever Twilight in Forks, formerly known as, Stephenie Meyer Day and Bella’s Birthday Weekend, every September, an event that started in 2008. Special event planning is a complex task and like most people the town had their ups and downs:

I don’t know whether I did a good thing or a bad thing. When the festival started it was run by the chamber and the chamber decided they were kind of tired or busy and they allowed the organization to be done by local folks. By different people in the community. It ended up that we had a whole bunch of war infractions of people that didn’t get along with each other very well. And finally the one individual and it’s the same thing, all we ever wanted if we contribute money we need to know where the money was spent. We need receipts. Receipts seem to be a concept, a problem for some folks. But between not getting receipts and people fighting with each other the events came off, But there was a lot of feuding who was doing what and whether it was quality. The one woman that attempted to take the whole thing, her work, and go down to St. Helens, Oregon, and blew it down there. That was a massive, not a good idea a massive failure and out of all this she’ll say the chamber wrecked her plan blah, blah, blah. But she was kind of flying off the cuff and ended up with the chamber taking it back over.

Despite the drama, the event managed to pull off its most impressive numbers in the past two years, which was a result of hard work and all the preparation that went into the festival, but also the activities offered too:

The last events have been pretty good. The Olympic Coven, the role model players, are really cool. I mean they are a bunch of fun no matter where they’re at. I did a lot of photo shoots with them last September. It’s a little unnerving, you know you have two Edwards, and they’re always around and everyone’s got colored eyes and pale skin. And I’m kinda in the photo shoot saying, “I must look rather delicious at this moment.”

It’s been ten years and the town of Forks has endured a lot with the Twilight phenomenon, but come out on top in the eyes of their mayor:

I think at some point it pretty much goes to the corners of the back of the mind and I think that most of the Twilight displays are probably gone at a lot of the stores. The one thing I’m happy with is Native to Twilight. You can technically say we’ve got one big Twilight store, but it’s more than anything still selling native art more than it is Twilight. So I think eventually it will quiet down and fade away.

I am really happy how the town handled it, in the sense that we didn’t go over the top, we didn’t sell our soul away on it. It’s translated into other things because we kept our heads on our shoulders.

After the interview, my other half and I went back to our hotel for a nightcap and some tasty treats before bed. I had a Lemon Drop martini, a Cosmopolitan and cheesecake while the boyfriend had some Heinekens and a crème brûlée.

In the morning, we made a detour back to the market. Downtown Seattle had been invaded by Comic-Con fans dressed in costumes for the Emerald City Fan Expo that weekend.

We stopped in one of my favourite shops, Golden Age Collectables (1501 Pike Pl, #401 Lower Level, Seattle), to see if I could find any vampire goodies. I grabbed the boyfriend a Shawn of the Dead badge for his Halloween costume and an original Blues Brothers script and Scooby Doo detective agency badge for Anthony’s a birthday present.

We tried to get some breakfast before hitting the road, but every shop and restaurant was queued up out the door so we opted for a quick bite at Starbucks (102 Pike St, Seattle).

Passing Through Port Angeles

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View from the Edmunds to Kington ferry, March 29, 2015. The wind was brutal and the boat swayed so much I felt like a drunk trying to walk. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Instead of taking the long way to Forks, we opted to take the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston for $21. The ride was only about twenty minutes, but bloody cold. I froze my ass off on deck just to get a few photos.

From Kingston, we drove to Port Angeles and stopped to check out Bella Italia (118 East First St, Port Angeles), the little restaurant that was made famous from Edward and Bella’s date in the 2008 Twilight movie. Fun fact: in 2009, the restaurant sold 4,500 bowls of $17 mushroom ravioli—the dish Bella ordered in the movie and book. But being a Sunday, it was closed.

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Bella Italia, Port Angeles, Wash., the restaurant where Bella and Edward dined together. I visited the restaurant on March 29, 2015, but it wasn’t open that day. If you look closely you can see some Twilight photos under the sign “Tasty Pasta.” (Photo: Erin Chapman)

We spotted a book store—Port Book and News (104 E. First St, Port Angeles)—open a couple of doors down and figured I could take a quick browse. I didn’t buy a book, but picked up a cute pair of vampire socks. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the bookstore was the place Bella declines to visit because of its “new age vibe.”

We left Port Angeles and only had fifty miles standing between us and Forks. Port Angeles is the last pitstop for commercial civilization as I call it. After that, say goodbye to giant box stores like Walmart, Safeway or Starbucks for that matter.

Arriving at Our Destination: Forks, Washington

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“I remember as we drove down the main street, all I could think, was this it?” Division Street in Forks, Wash., March 29, 2015. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

It was raining when we got to Forks, as I expected. The town’s Visitor Information Center (1411 S. Forks Ave, Forks) was at the south end of town and we had 10 minutes till they closed. I remember as we drove down the main street, all I could think, was this it? I saw two sets of traffic lights and some shops.

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The Forks Visitor Information Center, located in the Forks Chamber of Commerce. The two trucks parked out the front, a ca. 1952 and 1963 Chevrolet represent the trucks Bella drove in the novels and films respectively. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

The visitor center shares space with the Forks Timber Museum (1421 S Forks Ave, Forks), a neat reminder of Forks’ former primary attraction juxtaposed against the town’s fixation on Twilight.

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Two giant statues outside the Forks Timber Museum. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Inside the visitor center, I was greeted by a lovely, cheerful lady named Merry Parker, a VIC Staff Member of the Chamber of Commerce. I introduced myself and gave her my business card, explaining the purpose of my visit. When I told her we ran a vampire site, she was super excited and gave me a bunch of maps and hand outs, which I asked her to stamp and authenticate for Anthony as he is a stickler for these things.

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Certified and stamped handouts from Visitor Information Centre. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Merry said she was a huge Twilight fan and loved her job; especially getting to meet people every day. As I looked around, she greeted a large family that had just come in. Watching her interact with them, you could see her kindness and enthusiasm was genuine. Merry offered to take their photos with the vampire card-board-cut-out Twilight crew.

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Merry Parker, VIC Staff Member, stands between cardboard cutouts of Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) from the Twilight movies. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

The center had done a good job marketing Twilight and had numerous goodies to check out. Right beside the front door was the visitor guest book.

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Map, visitor guest book, and bear for donations. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

In the corner, they had the vampire cardboard cut-outs where fans could pose for photos accompanied by their outdoor tourist pamphlets in case you wanted to squeeze in some recreational activities between vampire goodness.

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Cardboard cutouts of Twilight movie characters inside the Visitor Information Center: Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene), Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). (Photo: Erin Chapman)

On the far wall they had a map of the United States and the world decorated with pushpins that marked where fans had traveled from to see Forks. It really put the level of Twilight fandom in perspective. There was also a couple of binders that were packed with media clippings from newspapers for fans to browse.

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Pushpins on a map of the United States inside the Visitor Information Center, representing places visitors have come to Forks from. (Photo: Erin Chapman)
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Pushpins on a map of the world inside the Visitor Information Center representing Forks visitors from various countries. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

I told Merry I would pop in tomorrow morning to see Lissy Andros at the Forks Chamber of Commerce, for an interview.

My partner and I then headed over to the Pacific Inn Motel (352 S. Forks Ave, Forks) to check into our Twilight Themed Room. Yes you read that right: I purposely booked this hotel to get the whole Twilight fan experience while in Forks.

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My accommodation at Forks: The Twilight Themed Room at the Pacific Inn Motel, Forks, Wash. Only $109 a night. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

The room was decorated with Twilight posters, light-switch covers, towels and topped off with red and black bedding. The ambiance of the room reminded me a cheesy motel room used for a porno flick, but to a Twihard I am sure it was heaven.

After dropping off our bags, we walked next door to Pacific Pizza (870 S. Forks Ave, Forks) for a late lunch as we had been driving most of the day and were starving. The diner boasted a Twilight-themed menu featuring “Bellasagna” and had a Twilight neon sign in the window.

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Pacific Pizza, Forks, Wash., a quaint little diner near my accommodation. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

When we walked in I found no menus, just a worn pamphlet taped to the counter. I ordered a vegetarian pizza and the boyfriend a Hawaiian pizza. The food was done in only a few minutes and I was surprised by my toppings; mushrooms, olives, green peppers, onions and cashews. It was an interesting spin and I was a little hesitant to try it, but turned out to be quite tasty.

We finished our meal and walked across the parking lot to the famous Forks Outfitters (950 S Forks Ave, Forks) where Bella worked. It turned out to be three stores in one with a hardware store to the right and the only grocery store in Forks to the left. The stores were joined so you could walk in between with ease.

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Forks Outfitters, Forks, Wash. I was disappointed with the souvenirs offered at this location. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

I went in search of Twilight souvenirs because the store was listed as a place to visit on the Chamber of Commerce’s handout, but was disappointed to only find an end aisle in the grocery store sporting some Forks souvenir shot glasses and keychains. We aborted the mission and settled on picking up some snacks and drinks for later that night.

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Native to Twilight, Forks, Wash., carries a much better range of Twilight merchandise. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

I needed to kill time before my next interview so we wandered over to Native to Twilight (10 S Forks Ave, Forks)It was past 6 p.m. and I was surprised the shop was still open since most places were closed today. The fellow behind the counter, Chris Rhodes, said they were already closed, but he would stay open if I wanted to look around.

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Native to Twilight employee, Chris Rhodes. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

The store was a combination of native art, homemade jellies and candies interspersed with Twilight souvenirs at the front of the store. They had Twilight action figures, stickers, glasses, posters, stationary and lots more goodies.

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Various Twilight merchandise in the store. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

I was starting to see a pattern; they had the familiar cardboard cut-outs on display. I asked Chris about some of their bare shelves and he said they are getting huge shipment in soon to ramp up for the summer tourist season.

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Native to Twilight had more space devoted to Twilight than the other store I visited in Forks. A must-visit for Twilight fans. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Chris was super friendly and said he had been working there only six months. He had worked for the owner at a different store up the road and ended up getting this job as the previous employee was robbed and assaulted; leaving a vacant position.

He said people come to town for the beaches and tourism, but a lot of fans still come for Twilight. This will be his first summer working at the shop so he wasn’t sure how busy it will get. He said approximately one out of every two people come to the shop in search of Twilight stuff. It’s funny having a non-fan work at such a Twihard tourist stop:

Sometimes I have to bite my tongue cause I haven’t seen the movie. They get kind of turned off by that. It’s been great, no one suspected it. When it [the movie] first came out people were like “oh Twilight sucks, get it out of here” and now I think people appreciate it.

Native to Twilight isn’t the only place in town that sells Twilight merchandise, but it currently has the largest selection. This shop wasn’t always the “go to” place either. Back in 2008, an entrepreneurial Twilight fan named Annette Root and her husband, Tim, moved to Forks and virtually monopolized the market.

On Nov. 1, 2008, Annette opened a Twilight-themed shop called Bedazzled by Twilight (DBT), right across the street from Native to Twilight. A short time later, she relieved the Forks Chamber of Commerce from their tour operation, launching her Dazzled by Twilight Tour Company.

In early 2009, she expanded again and opened a second DBT store in Port Angeles and The Twilight Lounge in Forks. Later that year, she opened another DBT store in Forks and the restaurant, The Lodge in Forks.

Perhaps there were operations issues or they expanded too fast: on Feb. 2, 2010 a tax warrant was issued to The Lodge in Forks and Twilight Lounge for unpaid sales taxes, penalties and interest. According to the state Department of Revenue at the time, DBT owed $39,239.04. The lodge and lounge closed on Jan. 23, 2011, and their other three stores followed suit:

The three DBT stores remained operational until December of 2011, when the Port Angeles shop was abruptly shut down. Two months later, in an attempt to recoup almost $4000 in back rent and utilities owed them by the Roots, the Port Angeles Elks Naval Lodge auctioned off boxes and boxes of DBT merchandise that were seized when Annette and Tim abandoned the property.

The following year, DBT made the news when the building that housed the second Forks DBT store caught fire on Oct. 29, 2012, and destroyed part of the building once inhabited by DBT. The cause of the fire was determined to be “a faulty electrical conduit located in the Rainforest Arts Center, an adjacent section of the same building.”

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What’s left of the Dazzled by Twilight store (11 N Forks Ave, Forks, Wash.) after it caught fire in 2012. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

We headed back to the hotel for a bit before my next interview with Staci Chastain at the little diner beside our hotel called the The In Place (320 S Forks Ave, Forks). Originally I reached out to Staci on Facebook on March 20, 2015 because when I was conducting my research her name kept coming up concerning the festivals in Forks. This YouTube video from Twicon in 2009 is what prompted me to find her in person:

The diner had a very homely feel to it and the waitress super nice. It was interesting to observe all the locals coming in and have the waitress know them by name; something you would never get out here in Vancouver. I asked Staci how she was introduced to the whole Twilight phenomenon:

It’s such a weird story because first of all, I guess I should just establish I have always been a huge vampire fan my whole life. I’ve always been a fan of the dark love story. If there is just something diametrically wrong with it, I love it. So Dracula of course was always a favorite. The Crow is a favourite, which I know isn’t a vampire, but still it’s one of those types of things.

So one year, I guess it could have been 2006 or 2007, there on the Forks Forum that we get once a week, was on page four, this big, “Vampires Thrive in Forks.” I think was the title and it said somebody was writing a book about vampires and I thought wow that’s lame. I didn’t think anymore of it and I heard the author had come to town and I missed it. And then my daughter comes home from school in the 8th grade, and she says they’re making us read that Twilight book and I was like isn’t that that romance novel? Why would they make you read that? It was in her English Literature class. I thought well since they’re making my kid read it, I should probably read it. I just like to know what the kids are reading. And so I read it, and that’s how I got involved in it.

Like other residents, when she noticed people coming to town her entrepreneurial instincts kicked in:

It was sort of an organic process for me. Because while I love the vampire novels, the whole sparkly non-violent vampires was a strange concept for me. I wasn’t really a huge fan of the story per say, but we started to see people coming to town and we were like wow. We started seeing merchandise popping up in stores. Know they were talking more and more about it and then I opened up, I’m an aesthetician so I opened a little day spa and just by proxy having a store in Forks people were coming in looking for merchandise. So I ended up turning the front half of my store into a Twilight store with a friend of mine and we sold more Fork-ish merchandise. We did funny edgy stuff like t-shirts that said “Forks makes me wet.” We didn’t want to sell the licensed stuff as Dazzled by Twilight was in town and they were selling that so we wanted to have our own little niche pocket. We’re all from Forks, so we thought they can have their thing they aren’t from here. They can do the licensed stuff and we’re from here so we can do our own thing.

Having her own business in Forks enabled Staci to experience fans first hand:

As it grew and the business started to get more people I started to realize that the dynamic of the people coming to town, was pretty interesting and for me it was just a really really amazing experience. All the people that I got to meet from all over the world, from all walks of life. I mean some of the best stories I’ve ever heard about people changing their lives, came from talking to people about Twilight. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a series doing that.

The fandom visiting Forks even lead her into a new business venture:

At that point I opened Alice’s Closet. Basically I changed focus a little bit, and did replica costumes because it got really huge and I didn’t realize the costumes were such a big deal. I had a couple of girls come in, dressed as Alice and Bella. I started doing some research and with their help I got a hold of a few pieces and had them replicated. High quality replicants and if somebody wanted to sell a piece or trade or something I would pick it up and then retail it. I also did stuff like jewelry and stuff I would commission from other people.

I sold a lot of autographed merchandise. I ran into a lady who was a broker, she’d been doing it for 50 years or something and she ended up with, she sold all sorts of stuff. I got ahold of her cause I was trying to buy an autographed picture of Adam Lambert for my daughter, who at that point had zero gay-dar. She goes you know what I just got in was a box of that Twilight stuff. And that turned into, right until the last movie I was buying stuff from her.

Staci’s experience with Twilight got her involved as a volunteer/event planner with the Forks Chamber of Commerce and as Bryon said earlier, they had a few hiccups in 2014:

In 2013, we had a really good time, it went really well and then just this last year [2014] we decided that we were going to go really huge. We were just going to go all out and then build up to 2015, which is the ten year anniversary. We did and our big party totally flopped, which was totally my fault. I’ve taken responsibility for it from the very beginning and like I keep telling people, you know I’ve done it for four years, a four day weekend. Four years in a row and I had one party flop and I know it was a big one. We got so much flack from local businesses and politicians and people online complaining about having to pay for everything, so we wanted to do as much stuff for free as we could. So we tried to write off expenses like we tried to have the Olympic Coven at everything rather than only just for the people who could afford to go to one event . . . In hindsight it should have all been wrapped up in one and honestly I was on my own on the ground. I mean I didn’t have any help logistically. I’m not making excuses, I’m just simply explaining the situation.

Last year I was in way over my head, I had no clue about the, I’m really good with the big picture, like this is the way it’s going to be and this is the way it’s going to look like, but when it comes down to the details that’s where I needed somebody else. It was honestly the first time I had done anything like that, and it turned badly and that really sucks. I ended up in the hole for that because we had to give refunds back to the event, which I mean it was fair. I’m being completely honest, it was totally fair. So we ended up giving refunds back and doing tons and tons of damage control. And so the group and I got together, the Coven and I got together, we’re like we can’t do this anymore.

From an organizer’s perspective, filling a four day schedule is no easy task, especially when you are working with a small budgets. Also it sounds like doing the event for free was a challenge for the Olympic Coven:

It takes a long time and a lot of effort and a lot of PR and the payment is nothing, if not going in the red. We decided unless the Chamber and the city of Forks would get behind us and sponsor it, that way we could make a little money off of one event. I mean we would go and do everything we have always done, but we wanted to be able to keep money. I mean these kids, I mean shoot our Emmet and Rosalie are professional actors . . . Dee is our publicist and she is a $165 per hour and she does publicity for us for free and then she comes here and takes time off work. They all take time out of work and don’t get paid to come here. So I mean we aren’t trying to rake anybody over the coals, we just want to get compensated for our time. So I went and talked to the Chamber of Commerce and said you know here is the deal. We need to talk about getting some money put our way.

Staci’s meeting with the Chamber of Commerce didn’t go as planned:

It cost last year, we were in about twenty five thousand dollars, after refunds and things like our big party only sold 139 tickets, and the caterer served 227 people. We had crashers so that was an extra added cost that we had to paid for . . . I just honestly think those numbers were shocking to them and they thought I was just being ridiculous. So then I was like, I’m gonna talk to these people in St. Helen’s cause I had made the initial contact to see if they would be even interested.

They [Chamber of Commerce] were just like we’re going to go back to doing what we did before, you know it will always be here. This is the way we’re going to handle it and I’m like perfect do whatever you want. But I’m taking my show [The Olympic Coven] to somewhere where we might have a chance to make some money.

Staci reached out to St. Helens as an alternative site for the Stephenie Meyer Weekend festival:

I start the initial meeting process and at that point I told them this is what’s going on in Forks, this is what we have, this is what we bring to the table. Is this something your community can get around because let me tell you right now if the community does not get around it, it’s not going to work because this is my problem in Forks. You know, I’m on my own. This is what it cost me to do this, here’s a lot more potential for money because you guys are closer to the airport and more centrally located to California and shoot Portland is twenty minutes away and twenty million people.

We need to be 100% transparent with Forks, I mean I met with the Chamber of Commerce and that point with Lissy, and told her what was happening. I said I have another meeting with her and her boss, and discuss what is going on and they got phone numbers and called themselves to St. Helens and talked to them and Lissy told them the same thing. We’re [Forks] just gonna do a small thing.

It looked like St. Helens was going to move forward with the project when the unexpected happened:

During the proposal, they were like literally just getting ready to say “yes,” I mean the person on the committee had said this is amazing. The business plan wasn’t just for the event, it was to build Twilight tourism in St. Helens and make it a viable business and with this being their kickstarter. She said this is perfect, blah, blah, blah, well then some dude who was at the table said well there is somebody here your going to want to hear from and then pushes his phone forward. And Lissy had been on the phone the whole time and she at that point, and this is exactly what I was told. “Painted me with such a dark brush, they couldn’t recover and were going to drop the event.”

Concerning the event this year, Forever Twilight in Forks, the Olympic Coven was coming, but forced to do it without Staci:

Then out of the blue comes a benefactor that says he’s going to pay for half the costs for the Olympic Coven to come and I’m like hmm this sounds so weird. He’s not from here, he’s from L.A. and he said but the condition is that anybody else that wants to come you guys have to fund raise for. I told them at that point I wasn’t willing to do anything, but it’s not one hundred percent my call because we are a group and we work together. We’re a team so the team made the call to go ahead and come…actually I was going to say it, I was told any involvement by me in any sort of organization or anything and the Olympic Coven would be cut from the event.

And I have said this before, so I’m not afraid to say it again. I was really sort of broken hearted with the way everything went down because I can tell you if I were in some of the people’s shoes that were not nice to me, I would have said you know look we have a lot of people coming to town and we can’t have them disappointed, so why don’t we work together and make this really amazing…I don’t understand why when I came to you guys [the chamber] I wasn’t like a let’s work together thing. It was a nope we’re not doing this and then you go and trash me in the media and say all sorts of awful things, and I mean why did it have to be that way? It didn’t have to be, it could have worked out a lot differently. I mean I never said anything bad about anybody in the media. I never trashed talked them one time and that was really tough for me because that wasn’t the game I wanted to play.

After my interview with Staci, my other half met me in the diner for a late dinner. Flexibility was a pattern and just like the Native by Twilight store, I asked when they close and the waitress said they simply stay open later if they have customers.

We went back to our Twilight Themed motel room for a night cap and I chatted with Anthony online for a bit while my other half watched some TV.

In the morning we decided to forfeit breakfast and just head out. I didn’t feel like I could do sit-down diner food again so we would wait until we hit Port Angeles.

The Visitor Information Center didn’t open until 10 a.m. so we had some time to kill before my meeting with Lissy Andros. We decided to check out Leppell’s Flowers & Gifts (130 Spartan Ave, Forks) as it was recommended for souvenirs. I was surprised to see they were open at 9:30 a.m.

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Outside Leppell’s Flowers & Gifts, Forks, Wash., on March 30, 2015. Also called Leppelle’s Twilight Central. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Again lots of Twilight merchandise and to me this topped Native to Twilight. They carried some of the licensed merchandise, but had some cool specialized things as well. The old man working behind the counter was very friendly.

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Unique Twilight goodies fans won’t want to miss out on. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Since my birthday was in a couple of days, my other half picked me up a book I hadn’t seen before: Gavin Baddeley’s Vampire Lovers: Screen’s Seductive Creatures of the Night: A Book of Undead Pin-Ups (2010). I picked up some little trinkets for Anthony and myself. Their selection was amazing and they also had the familiar card board cutouts.

We then headed off to the Visitor Information Center, and on the way out, noticed a tour van parked nearby.

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The Team Forks Twilight Tours bus. Tours run from Leppell’s. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

We arrived by 10 a.m. and people were already browsing inside and taking photos. Merry was there again and very happy to see me. She told Lissy I was there for our interview and we headed upstairs to their office slash storage room. Bryon had given me a heads up Lissy wasn’t a born and bred local, so I asked how she came to live in Forks:

I’ve been here since December of ’09. Indirectly Twilight brought me here. I didn’t want to read Twilight, I was not interested, but the gal that was my BFF, she was my nail’s person. Every week when I would go in there she was like “oh you got to read it, it’s so good.” I went in there one day on a Thursday I think and you know she said the movie comes out tomorrow and we’re going to the midnight showing and you should come with us. I was like no I’m not interested, but the funny thing was she thought the movie was Friday night, she didn’t know it was Thursday night.

Early in December she handed me the four books and said read these or find someone else to do your hair. I’m like God that’s really harsh. So I ended up reading them and she said she was bluffing, but I didn’t know at the time. I ended up reading them and I was hooked. I was looking for somewhere to move my mom and I at the time and I wanted to get out of Texas, cause it’s so hot and humid. So we were wanting to move and I had a map on the wall and we were kind of researching different states, crossing them out as too hot too cold. And I read Twilight and I thought Washington might be a possibility.

So I came up here for Stephenie Meyer weekend with said BFF. When I got here I just loved it and started looking for a house here.

Worked at the chamber since March 2011. I started as the director of tourism of marketing and promotions, which was a new job created through the 2% hotel motel tax. They had this influx of tax dollars and they needed a way to continue marketing and promoting the area. So they created a new position which I got the position. In Dec. 2012 I became the Executive Director.

According to Lissy, it was the librarian in town that tipped everyone off to what was about to come:

When the head librarian called from the Forks Library and said to Marcia [Bingham], who is my predecessor, there is this book coming out and Forks is mentioned, and the author wants to come up here to do a book signing. I think they may have known before that, but it was the librarian who gave the chamber the heads up.

Once fans started coming to Forks, the Chamber took the initiative and got creative:

when people first starting coming in for Twilight, they came in very sporadically. And not sure what to find, but they were very into it. And when they started coming into the [Forks] Chamber [of Commerce], the Chamber staff recognized very quickly they needed to do something so that the fans could have a great experience. Because the fans were looking for something and they wanted to provide something for the fans. With the help of other business owners, they got the truck for outside, businesses started putting Twilight items on their menus, and fans could have fun ordering Twilight menus and items. The Chamber made the map and found the places that matched the descriptions in the book. So they started wanting something for the fans to take home with them and provide a great experience for them. I think that Forks was really lucky that they had people in the positions that they were in to recognize let’s embrace this. The chamber isn’t here to keep businesses from doing stuff, we want to embrace business and we say go for it.

Despite Annette Root monopolizing the Twilight industry, Lissy said there wasn’t much conflict with the locals:

From what I hear, and it would just be hearsay, the fans loved it, but some of the local people were probably thinking why didn’t we think of that, why didn’t we do that. The person, the company that first started selling the book in Forks was where Dazzled [by Twilight] ended up being. I think that even people in town, you know there was good synergy so Annette had her stuff and other places had their things. Nobody really had the same so the fan experience was great because they could go to Dazzled, they could go to Outfitters, they could go to Choonook. They could go to all these places, Twilight central and get all these different things and get an overall great experience.

We were half way through our interview when the president of the chamber, Don Grafstrom, popped in. Lissy invited him to join, letting him know I was recording the conversation. He added to Lissy’s last point:

The Chamber exists to assist local businesses and with Stephenie Meyer writing the books, we were faced with the dilemma of how to meet the demands of the fans: the tourists that were coming here for vampire or that type of souvenir and things like that. So Forks has been in the area for a long time, logging and all that and it took a while for everybody to realize, just what an impact.

When Annette came in I think she really showed a lot of businesses what could be done. There was some jealousy, by people that said wait a minute we’ve been here and having this outsider, but you know what this is America. And everyone has that right, to start up a business. I think that after a while that kind of worked itself out and after she left people continued to build on the Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight themes.

In regards to the events Stephanie Meyer Day which is now known as Forever Twilight in Forks Lissy added:

A group of people, local, came to us and said we think we can make it bigger and better, stronger faster all those good things. And we said by all means, go for it and we’ll just act in a supporting role. I think that over the past few years, just not a lot of cohesiveness, in the planning and the fans were looking for cohesiveness and they wanted to go to events where they didn’t have to choose between this party and that party. This function and that function.

One of the things about this fandom, is they want to be together. They have maybe never met each other. Have only talked online, or you know been members of groups and just wanna come here together and not have any conflict. I think that was one of the drawbacks over the past few years of just people organizing things here and so when we had the opportunity to jump back in, in an organizing role we definitely took it. We’re so excited because people all over the world, we have people who already bought tickets from south Africa, and Oakland and Columbia, Canada. These people put their hard earned money, vacation time, coming here so we want to make it the best we can make it for them. The great thing is they want to come and help with the event and participate any way they can. It’s like a big family.

We make friends with the people that come, they may come as strangers and leave as friends. We have a guy and gal that have been coming here for I want to say four years, and the first time they came they got engaged. The second time they were on their honeymoon, and now their first anniversary and second anniversary. They want to come by and see us every time.

In regards to the event moving to St. Helens, Lissy painted a different picture than Staci:

People had fun in 2014. I think they had some glitches. But last year Staci wanted to move it somewhere else and we really thought it belonged here. I think that things work out for a reason. I think especially this year being the ten year anniversary of the book, I think that everything worked out just great because all of the fans that might have been split, do get to come up here together.

Don added:

It was Staci. I agree. You know sometimes people can pitch something very well and fortunately St. Helens took a broad look at the whole situation and I think they decided that Twilight did belong here in Forks as far as this event goes. They have their own association with Twilight but as far as this event, this was an event the Forks community created for the Twlight fans and it belonged here. They honored that in the end.

Don elaborated on why this year of all years they changed the name of the festival:

Stephenie is a real person. One of the reasons we changed the name of the event, from Stephenie Meyer Day to Forever in Twilight was to honor the feeling we got and the things that Stephenie said. She felt kind of embarrassed or awkward seeing a banner across with SMD [Stephenie Meyer Day], she didn’t feel it should be about her. So we changed the name of the event because of that to honor her wishes.

Lissy expanded on the name change:

People like the new name, the new logo and stuff, it’s kind of a new beginning. We want to embrace the years we have done the event so it’s still a celebration of Stephenie Meyer and all things Twilight and we celebrate Bella’s birthday. So we are still celebrating the same thing, we just have a new name and a new attitude.

We have a great group of volunteers and a gal in Ontario that helps us, we have a gal in Alabama, we have Arizona, a gentleman in Hollywood, we have a great team that helps us. A gal that concentrates on on Pinterest, someone that does Tumble, Twitter and Instagram. So it’s not really chamber, but chamber supported. People are passionate about different things, so why not let them have with what they are passionate about.

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Flyers for the event this year marking the 10th anniversary of the publishing of the book and the new name change. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

After the interview wrapped up we went back downstairs for a group photo and said our goodbyes. First, Lissy introduced me to Marcia Yanish, a volunteer at the center and number one Twilight fan in town. I didn’t have time to chat with Marcia, but I got her email address and on April 22, 2015 she was gracious enough to answer some questions for me.

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Forks Chamber of Commerce members (L-R): Lissy Andros with Alice Cullen, Edward Cullen with Marcia Yanish, Merry Parker with Jacob Black. (Photo: Erin Chapman)

Naturally I wanted Marcia to explain how she became acquainted with the whole Twilight craze:

There was an article in the Forks Forum about the“Twilight” book taking place in Forks. Also Marcia Bingham, former Executive Director, and Mike Gurling, were having people coming into the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center traveling to Forks, because they had read the book. It started out with Middle School age girls, but then all age groups and walks of life started coming as fans. I first read the book when I took my granddaughter and her cousin to see Harry Potter “Goblets of Fire” in Port Angeles at the Lincoln Theater. We stopped by Port Book & News and saw the book on the shelf. Later I bought the book for Brigitte for Christmas, but her cousin also gave her the book. Brigitte gave the book back to me, and I decided to read it. I enjoyed it so much, and I then read the books as they came out. I was especially excited that it took place in Forks. Stephenie Meyer does a great job of drawing you in, and she is so good at understanding how teenagers think.

Marcia was lucky enough to meet Meyers in person:

I did meet Stephenie when she came to Forks in 2013 for Stephenie Meyer Day. It was so exciting! I was in a picture with her and the article was on the front page of Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles on September 15, 2013. You could probably get a copy of it on-line. Also, the Forks Forum had an article with pictures the week after the celebration

Through volunteering Marcia has encountered many Twihards over the years:

I have been volunteering for 7 1/2 years and loving every minute of it. I really enjoy the fans. We just have just the best fans in the world! There are several fan experiences that have been memorable. I had a creative writing teacher from California that had been teaching for 30 years. She said that “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” had helped her so much with teaching creative writing. Also, there was a guy from northern California who was failing English in 8th grade, and his English teacher said that she would pass him if he would read “Twilight” and write a book report on it. He ended up reading all of the books, and going on to High School and College. He even owns a silver Volvo now.

Just recently, I had an 8th grade teacher from Tokyo who was taking souvenirs back to Japan, because the kids love Forks and are reading “Twilight”. He teaches 8th grade English and uses the book to teach it. Also, two teachers from Brazil use the Twilight book to teach English. One teaches 8th grade English and the other one teaches high school English.

I have met several librarians that love the books. One librarian is from a high school in Tampa, Florida. She said that she can’t keep the “Twilight” books on the shelf at her library. When I first started working at the Visitor Center, a San Diego Public Librarian came in, and she said that she noticed that there were 100 people on the waiting list to check out “Twilight”. She decided to read it, and she said that Forks was the first place that she had ever gone to see the location after reading a book.

According to Marcia, the whole Twilight phenomenon has only had positive effects on the town:

I think that some people are confused by the phenomenon and don’t understand why people are coming here because of a book. One thing that has made it so that people aren’t so negative is that the Twilight fans are so wonderful. They are so glad to be here and love Forks no matter what kind of weather we are having. Everyone comments about how nice and friendly everyone is, so that is really nice to hear since they are so nice. Once in awhile I hear about someone getting caught up in that the book is vampires and werewolves, but most people realize that it is just make believe. Some people worried about witchcraft with Harry Potter and that hasn’t made people do witchcraft. They have both helped get kids to read which is so wonderful. It has been such a concern about kids not reading.

Marcia explained what her most treasured souvenirs are:

I have two valued souvenirs. My daughter and her husband, Bruce and Shelley Paul, who own Forks Outfitters framed a large picture of me with Stephenie Meyer. It is the same picture that is on the Peninsula Daily News front page that I mentioned above. I just love it! The other souvenir is a caricature map of Forks that Tim Kirk, a retired graphic artist for Disney, did for the “Twilight Tours” book by George Beahm. Tim did artwork of Bella standing on the cliff at LaPush in the margin on my map. He did different artwork on the other maps that he sold on Stephenie Meyer Day right after the book was published. The book actually received a special award by the State of Washington. It tells about the real Forks. The map was so popular in the book that he decided to make it into a poster.

On top of volunteering Marcia also dabbles in quilt making and she mixes the Twilight element into it.

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Twilight quilt made by Marcia Yanish. (Photo: Marcia Yanish)

As me and my partner left Forks, the last photo I took was some Twilight firewood of all things. I guess anything can be merchandised nowadays.

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Now the question is, does “Twilight” firewood cost more than regular firewood? (Photo: Erin Chapman)

After my trip, last Forks resident I contacted was Christi Baron, editor of the Forks Forum. I reached out to her on June 15, 2015 via email in hopes of getting some scanned copies of photos or articles and ended up with something better. Christi was able to recall the beginning of the phenomenon:

Stephenie Meyer did come read from her book in 2006. The very first story is 7/19/06 [July 19, 2015] it tells about her coming to Forks to read but no real mention of seeing many visitors yet.

The next story is 7/26/06 and it regards her reading from the book and the fact a pretty good size crowd showed up as well as people from as far away as Texas were there so I could actually scan all these if you need too.

Christi was even able to recall her first Twihard encounter: “The first Twilight fan I saw was in the bakery at Forks Outfitters and she was squealing to someone on her cell phone that ‘She was in Forks’ and I thought what the heck is going on?”

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“Stephenie Meyer did come read from her book in 2006. The very first story is 7/19/06 [July 17, 2006] it tells about her coming to Forks to read but no real mention of seeing many visitors yet.” (Scan courtesy of Christi Brown)
Looking back it’s hard to believe it has been a decade since Twilight was published. Forks also celebrated this year by holding their ninth annual Twilight festival, Forever Twilight in Forks, on Sept. 10–13, 2015. This is confusing because according to my stats from the Chamber of Commerce this year would be their eighth year.

Besides the name change, what made this year special was Meyers actually attended the weekend festival and signed books for fans. The Olympic Coven also managed to get their whole group there as well, despite funding challenges—their Indiegogo campaign was successful.

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Staci Chastain (L) with The Olympic Coven and Stephenie Meyer (seventh from left) at the 2015 Forever Twilight in Forks festival, Forks, Wash. (Photo: Facebook/The Olympic Coven)

What makes Forks unique isn’t the fact that Meyers used it as a backdrop for her Twilight Saga;  their annual festivals celebrating the whole phenomenon or their massive rainfall; it’s the people that live there. Everyone I met was lovely and the atmosphere compared to the city was refreshing. Sure they have some dramas, but you will find this anywhere you go.

Over the years the town has been invaded by Twihards, but instead of rejecting the concept the residents embraced it with their entrepreneurial instincts and injected their declining economy with a much needed boost. Some people say the town of Forks sold their soul by embracing Twilight and profiting from the whirlwind, but others may say they were just being marketing savvy.

During my interview with Lissy, Don Grafstrom said he had to go. He got up, stood in the doorway, went to leave, but turned and said: “They come for Twilight; they come back for Forks.” If this is true, then the residents of Forks have succeeded. 

Notes:

  1. a three-book deal from Little, Brown and Company: “Twilight (Novel Series),” Wikipedia, accessed July 31, 2015, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_(series). archive.is link: https://archive.is/2L0pD.
  2. small town of 3,349 people: “Forks, WA Profile,” IDcide – Local Information Data Server, 2015, accessed Aug.1, 2015, http://www.idcide.com/citydata/wa/forks.htm. archive.is link: https://archive.is/9CqoK.
  3. $3,345,177,904 in gross sales for the saga’s film adaptations: “Vampire: 1978-Present,” Box Office Mojo, 2015, accessed Aug. 1, 2015, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=vampire.htm. archive.is link: https://archive.is/pJYz8.
  4. top five places of the highest grossing vampire movies: Ibid.
  5. sold over 100 million books worldwide in 37 languages: “Twilight (Novel Series),” Wikipedia.
  6. financially dependent on the logging and timber industry until the 1990s: Julie Van Pelt, “Forks — Thumbnail History,” HistoryLink: The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, Dec.10, 2007, accessed Aug. 5, 2015, http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=8397. archive.is link: https://archive.is/0JVWd.
  7. other revenue streams to rely on: Ibid.
  8. a brochure issued by the Forks Chamber of Commerce: Laurel Black Design, On the Olympic Peninsula (Forks, Wash.: Forks Chamber of Commerce, n.d.).
  9. “twelve feet” to be exact: Ibid.
  10. Forks gets an average of 210 days of rain per year and an average of 119 inches: “The precipitation data here are long-term historical averages based on the weather from 1981 to 2010.” Liz Osborn, “Wettest Places in United States,” Current Results, n.d., accessed Aug. 4, 2015, http://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/wettest.php. archive.is link: https://archive.is/LdNtJ.
  11. the reason why Stephenie Meyer chose Forks: Stephenie Meyer, “The Story Behind Twilight,” The Official Website of Stephenie Meyer, n.d., accessed Aug. 2, 2015, http://stepheniemeyer.com/twilight.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/Vpy0m. On March 4, 2015, I reached out to Stephenie’s publishing company hoping to get in touch with the author as her personal website has no contact information. I wanted further elaboration from her about Forks. As of writing, this I have not received a response.
  12. “We were blessed because Stephenie [Meyer] did such a good job”: Bryon Monohon, interview with the author, March 28, 2015.
  13. “I was always kind of a big Dark Shadows fan”: Ibid.
  14. he lives right next door to a house that looked close enough to be called the “Swan” residence: The “Swan House” is located at 775 K St, Forks. The town designated this house to be Bella’s residence as part of their marketing initiative. The real house used in the film is actually located in Kerry Park in Surrey, at 184 St and 28 Ave in British Columbia.
  15. “It really made an impact on the tourists”: Monohon, interview with the author.
  16. “We didn’t really get much in the way of vampire interests”: Ibid.
  17. “The other thing we treaded very well”: Ibid.
  18. “The tourists on a whole, the visitors were wonderful”: Ibid.
  19. “the same weekend as Stephenie Meyer Day”: Stephenie Meyer Day is an annual event held in Sept. in Forks, though dates vary. If Bryon’s “probably three years ago” comment refers to 2012, then that Stephenie Meyer Day—combined with Bella’s Birthday Weekend—took place between Sept. 14–17, 2012. Forks Chamber of Commerce, “Stephenie Meyer Day / Bella’s Birthday Weekend,” Discover Forks, Washington, ca. 2012, accessed Oct. 3, 2015, http://forkswa.com/event/stephenie-meyer-day-bellas-birthday-weekend/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/UKvLP.
  20. “We had typical drunken shenanigans at the Twilight Bar”: Monohon, interview with the author.
  21. “We became a lot of people’s home town away from home”: Ibid.
  22. “I don’t know whether I did a good thing or a bad thing”: Ibid.
  23. “The last events have been pretty good”: Ibid.
  24. “I think at some point it pretty much goes to the corners of the back of the mind”: Ibid.
  25. restaurant sold 4,500 bowls of $17 mushroom ravioli: Amy Farnsworth, ” ‘Twilight’ Helps Forks, Wash., Beat the Recession,” The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 25, 2009, accessed Aug. 16, 2015, http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/new-economy/2009/0925/twilight-helps-forks-wash-beat-the-recession. archive.is link: https://archive.is/2fdJ8. I contacted the restaurant via email to see if I could get some more recent statistics, but as of writing this did not receive a reply.
  26. the bookstore Bella declines to visit because of its new age vibe: Ibid.
  27. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue cause I haven’t seen the movie: Chris Rhodes, interview with the author, March 29, 2015.
  28. Annette opened a Twilight-themed shop called Bedazzled by Twilight: Paige Dickerson, “Store with ‘Twilight’ Theme Opens in Forks Home of Bella and Edward,” peninsuladailynews.com, last modified Nov. 16. 2008 at 4:50 a.m., accessed Aug. 31, 2015, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20081116/NEWS/311169993. archive.is link: https://archive.is/Myqjr.
  29. she relieved the Forks Chamber of Commerce from their tour operation: [Charly D. Miller], Tour the Twilight Saga: The Dazzled by Twilight Story: (n.p.: A Novel Holiday, n.d.), accessed Sept. 1, 2015, http://www.tourthetwilightsaga.com/B1/DBTstory.pdf. The document has no byline, but the Tour the Twilight Saga states that Miller is the legal author of all works published through the site. “Disclaimers,” Tour the Twilight Saga, 2015, accessed Oct. 5, 2015, http://tourthetwilightsaga.com/disclaimer/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/Yl9yI.
  30. In early 2009 she expanded again: Ibid.
  31. on Feb. 2, 2010 a tax warrant was issued: Paige Dickerson, ” ‘Twilight’-Inspired Business Owes Nearly $40,000, State Department of Revenue Says,” peninsuladailynews.com, last modified March 4, 2010 at 11:47 p.m., accessed Sept. 6, 2015, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20100305/NEWS/303059989. archive.is link: https://archive.is/NX6z1.
  32. The lounge and lodge closed on Jan.23, 2011: [Miller], Tour the Twilight Saga.
  33. “The three DBT stores remained operational until December of 2011”: Ibid. I reached out to Annette by email and she was going to give me her side of the story. I followed up with her a few times, but as of writing this I hadn’t heard back from her so all the following information is what I gathered online. The last time I emailed her was on Sept. 27, 2015.
  34. the second DBT store caught fire on Oct. 29, 2012: The Associated Press, “Fire Destroys ‘Twilight’ Store in Forks, Washington,” OregonLive, Oct. 29, 2012, accessed Sept. 7, 2015, http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/10/fire_destroys_twilight_store_i.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/7T0nP. Miller mistakenly dates the event to Oct. 30, 2012.
  35. “a faulty electrical conduit located in the Rainforest Arts Center”: [Miller], Tour the Twilight Saga.
  36. YouTube video from Twicon in 2009: “Interview with Staci Chastain – Owner of 98331 Gear in Forks, WA ,” YouTube video, 6:01, posted by MovieGeekFeed, Aug. 7, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUKgX1cUZ7o.
  37. “It’s such a weird story”: Staci Chastain, interview with the author, March 29, 2015.
  38. “It was sort of an organic process for me”: Ibid.
  39. “As it grew and the business started to get more people”: Ibid.
  40. “At that point I opened Alice’s Closet”: Ibid.
  41. “In 2013, we had a really good time”: Ibid.
  42. “It takes a long time and a lot of effort and a lot of PR”: Ibid.
  43. “It cost last year, we were in about twenty five thousand dollars“: Ibid.
  44. “I start the initial meeting process and at that point I told them this is what’s going on in Forks”: Ibid.
  45. “During the proposal, they were like literally just getting ready to say ‘yes’ “: Ibid.
  46. “Then out of the blue comes a benefactor that says he’s going to pay for half the costs for the Olympic Coven to come”: Ibid.
  47. I’ve been here since December of ’09”: Lissy Andros, interview with the author, March 30, 2015.
  48. “When the head librarian called from the Forks Library”: Ibid.
  49. “when people first starting coming in for Twilight, they came in very sporadically”: Ibid.
  50. “From what I hear, and it would just be hearsay, the fans loved it”: Ibid.
  51. “The Chamber exists to assist local businesses and with Stephenie Meyer writing the books”: Don Grafstrom, interview with the author, March 30, 2015.
  52. “A group of people, local, came to us and said we think we can make it bigger and better”: Andros, interview with the author.
  53. “People had fun in 2014. I think they had some glitches”: Ibid.
  54. “It was Staci. I agree”: Grafstrom, interview with the author.
  55. “Stephenie is a real person”: Ibid.
  56. “People like the new name, the new logo and stuff”: Andros, interview with the author.
  57. “There was an article in the Forks Forum about the ‘Twilight’ book taking place in Forks”: Marcia Yanish, e-mail message to author, April 22, 2015.
  58. “I did meet Stephenie when she came to Forks in 2013 for Stephenie Meyer Day”: Ibid.
  59. “I have been volunteering for 7 1/2 years and loving every minute of it”: Ibid.
  60. “I think that some people are confused by the phenomenon”: Ibid.
  61. “I have two valued souvenirs”: Ibid.
  62. “Stephenie Meyer did come read from her book in 2006”: Christi Baron, e-mail message to author, June 16, 2015.
  63. “The first Twilight fan I saw was in the bakery at Forks Outfitters”: Ibid.
  64. their ninth annual Twilight festival: Forks Chamber of Commerce, “Forever Twilight in Forks,” Discover Forks, Washington,” 2015, accessed on Sept. 30, 2015, http://forkswa.com/event/forever-twilight-in-forks/?instance_id=6450. archive.is link: https://archive.is/xfyK4.
  65. their Indiegogo campaign: Melissa Rivett, “Get Carlisle, Esme and Victoria to Forks!” Indiegogo, 2015, accessed https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/get-carlisle-esme-and-victoria-to-forks#/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/seydv.
  66. “They come for Twilight; they come back for Forks”: Grafstrom, interview with the author.

Stay tuned for the follow-up to Erin’s Forks investigation! In the meantime, you can re-experience her journey to another vampire-infested place: “Seeking Vampires in London” (Nov. 16, 2014).

Written by Erin Chapman

Erin is Vamped’s Co-administrator. She is the owner of Vampire Classifieds and Horror Classifieds. She has 2 turtles; has 15 piercings and 5 tattoos; loves turtles and walking around in bare feet. She has a degree in marketing and sales and has been in the industry for over 12 years. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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