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Connoisseurs sink their teeth into the Dracula mythFrom staff and wire reports
POIANA BRASOV, Romania -- Lovers of horror and the macabre have been descending on the home of one of their heroes this weekend.
Scholars, artists and fans of Count Dracula attended the Second World Dracula Congress in Poiana Brasov, Romania, in the heart of the real Transylvania.
Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula" was inspired by a local 15th-century ruler who earned the nickname 'Vlad the Impaler' for disposing of his victims on stakes.
Local organizers from the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (TSD) are now trying to cash in on the man who terrorized their forefathers by using him as a tourist attraction.
But three years of economic recession, coupled with a post-communist tourism industry that is still mostly in government control, have hindered their efforts. Conference delegates, however, remain enthusiastic about their pilgrimage to the home of the legend.
"Dracula is a Western myth, and we want to put its magic to work here in Transylvania," said TSD President Nicolae Paduraru, who also is the host to the weekend conference.
"Romania is the spiritual home for people interested in ghosts, vampires and the paranormal," said Alan Murdie, head of Britain's Ghost Club, as the event got under way Thursday in a resort set in Transylvania's forested mountains, 105 miles north of Bucharest.
The legend of Dracula has inspired more than 180 movies, some of which will be screened during the event, which also features lectures, discussions and tours of the region.
Souvenirs from the conference include hand-sized coffins certified to contain earth from under Castle Dracula in Transylvania.
Many delegates will also be sampling the local red wine and sampling the local cuisine, which for reasons lost in Transylvanian legend, features large doses of garlic.
Transylvanian Society of Dracula - Italy
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