Alan Mitchell portrays Edward Cullen as part of the Olympic Coven acting troupe and can be seen at the Forks “Forever Twilight Festival.” (Forks Chamber of Commerce)

Alan Mitchell portrays Edward Cullen as part of the Olympic Coven acting troupe and can be seen at the Forks “Forever Twilight Festival.” (Forks Chamber of Commerce)

Forks gears up for new ‘Twilight’ book release

FORKS — While others cancel festivals and shut down events, the town of Forks is gearing up for a September celebration focused on a new book in the Twlight series by Stephenie Meyer.

Meyer, the author of a four-novel collection about romantic liaisons between mortals and vampires in Forks, announced on Monday that a new book, “Midnight Sun,” will be released Aug. 4 as a companion to the series that sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and spawned five films.

Organizers of the annual Twilight Celebration in Forks hope the release of the book — which tells the original story of Twilight, but from the perspective of the vampire Edward Cullen — will drive more tourism to the West End community where the series is set.

The festival is planned for Sept. 10-13 and the hope is that with the phased re-opening of the state that Forks will be able to carry on with the event that draws fans from all over the world rather than cancel it.

“We are still planning 100 percent and we will actually decide on Aug. 1 what the current climate is and based on what’s going on, to go forward with it,” said Lissy Andros, Forks Chamber of Commerce director.

Since the release of the first book in 2005, Forks has enjoyed and embraced an increase in tourism in the area, so much so that it has its own tour map dedicated to locations described in the book and seen in the film.

“We have a self-guided Twilight tour that people can go on,” Andros said.

“We also have a gallery that the Forks Chamber operates called ‘Forever Twilight’ and Forks Collection, which is a gallery of actual props and costumes from the movies, books from all over the world, tons of photo- op areas,” she added.

“Midnight Sun” originally was to be released back in 2008, but when a manuscript was leaked online the project shelved. Portions of the book have been on Meyer’s website for years and Twilight fans have been eager to see more.

“We are centering our 2020 festival around ‘Midnight Sun,’ we have everything crossed, fingers, toes, everything, that when Stephanie Meyer does her book tour, which she mentions on her website, that Forks will be one of her stops. We would love that! Whether that’s during our festival or at another time,” Andros said.

Meyer previously visited Forks in 2015 and signed books for over 1,200 people.

The festival often includes a question-and-answer session with a panel of actors from the films and other VIP guests, an autograph and fan event along with a beach party at La Push and a tour of the house known in Forks as the Cullen house.

This year Billy Burke — the actor who portrayed Chief Charlie Swan, Bella Swan’s father — will be one of the special guests.

Following the release of the first film in November 2008, the Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center saw a huge increase in tourism over the next three years.

Prior to the film release, the visitor center was averaging just over 10,000 visitors a year with its peaks in July and August. By 2009 the visitor center had nearly 70,000 visitors over the course of the year with over 16,000 visitors in the month of July alone.

That record was broken in 2010 with nearly 73,000 visitors over the course of the year and 16,550 visitors also in July. Since the release of the final Twilight film in 2011, the visitor center has maintained an average of 37,000 visitors.

“You can kind of surmise what kind of economic impact that has for Forks and the Olympic Peninsula,” Andros said.

“Anybody that comes to Forks has to come through somewhere else on the Olympic Peninsula first and you know they’re stopping and spending money and so forth and falling in love with the Olympic Peninsula as a whole.”

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].