А and и are not even imperfectly interchangeable; they're not interchangeable at all.
But first things first; the whole thing looks a little off to me as a single sentence. I took the liberty of finding the entire paragraph, and I see what happened now.
Друзья, как здорово взглянуть на свою любимую библиотеку со стороны! Как много талантливых и чудесных людей бывает у нас в гостях, а вчера к нам зашла фотограф Евгения, со своей очаровательной дочкой Алёной.
Спасибо Евгении за хорошие отзывы о Бартеневке, ждем в гости еще!
Making the paragraph flow correctly in the reader's inner ear was the writer's priority, so they wanted to avoid both an exclamation mark and an ellipsis after в гостях, because they're both too "strong" as it were. But they didn't spot the less obvious choice which I think captures it just right: comma followed by dash.
Как много талантливых и чудесных людей бывает у нас в гостях, — а вчера к нам зашла фотограф Евгения, со своей очаровательной дочкой Алёной.
The comma after Евгения is technically incorrect, as was pointed out in the comments, but intonationally, again, it makes a lot of sense. Punctuation rules are often at odds with how you'd naturally segment a sentence in Russian.
Anyway: this is an over-specific and thus very unhelpful example if you want to learn about а vs. и, because the а here doesn't really connect anything, despite the punctuation making it look like it does. It's more of an introductory а that doesn't go beyond its own clause, only extending to the right, as it were, and bordered off on the left.
И, in this case, would also have been an introductory и with no real syntactic connection to what preceded it; but like in most cases, since а and и are not interchangeable, и would have changed the meaning significantly: to "yesterday, too, a photographer named Yevgeniya stopped by". As it is, with а, I'm not sure you even have to translate the а. It doesn't have a real English equivalent. A lot certainly do come to mind — "say, yesterday...", or "thus yesterday...", or "speaking of which, yesterday..." – but as far as I can tell, a person writing and thinking in English would likely just say "yesterday" right away.