Vampires continue to roam Covington, and local Jessica Lowery is making a killing. Profit wise that is; no wooden stakes are involved. At least, she didn't mention any.
"The Vampire Diaries" TV show became an instant hit and continues to gain in popularity in its second season on the CW network. Fans have been pouring into Covington for more than a year from as far away as Europe, but next weekend will be a whole different experience.
Atlanta plays host to the first Vampire Diaries convention, organized by EyeCon, from March 25-27. The convention will feature several actors including Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Steven R. McQueen, Michael Trevino, Lauren Cohan and Robert Pralgo.
Lowery runs both the popular blog vampirestalkers.com and a local tour company Mystic Falls Tours. She is a co-sponsor of EyeCon and has 200 people booked for tours in Covington for the three convention days. The only tour openings remaining during the convention are on Thursday.
"It’s crazy nuts to me. I rented two 15-passenger vans and am going to run them four times a day. I’m still turning people away. For some people this is their one and only chance to come," she said. "I like the fact I have a job I can enjoy and love the fact I have a chance to help a charity."
That charity is the Ian Somerholder Foundation, an animal and environmental advocacy group, founded by its TV star namesake. Somerhalder in particular has formed a bond with Lowery and her 15-year old daughter Brannan.
Lowery and Brannan were fans of L.J. Smith’s original books and when the show came into town they would watch filming, get pictures with the stars and blog about their experiences.
"Anything you can have in common with your daughter is a great thing. People would call the house and (my husband) would say (I was) out stalking them vampires. I had met the girl who runs a Vampire Diaries website and she was posting pictures of me meeting the cast. Eventually she said, I’m having too much traffic, you should start your own site. That’s when we started vampirestalkers.com," Lowery said.
The former special education teacher lost her job during the school system’s cuts and turned to giving tours full time. The tour is now up to 23 filming sites in Covington and takes about 2.5-3 hours to complete. Lowery herself has been to 30 sites and spends hours talking to cast and crew, allowing her to offer insider stories and perspective.
She makes enough money in her entrepreneurial pursuit to be the main breadwinner for a family of four.
"When I started doing this (in January 2010), I said when it start slacking off I’ll expand to do tours of different filming stuff. I haven’t even had a chance to think about doing that yet. At one point, I worried (what would happen) when everybody came who was going to come, but I’ve had several people come back again because I add new spots and new stories," she said.
The filming season runs from July to April, which is the most popular touring time. To book a tour or learn more visit mysticfallstours.com or email Lowery at email@example.com or call at (404) 549-1489. To learn more about EyeCon visit eyeconfla.com.