Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ghost Conventions - They're a Thing

For the past several years, my ghost-hunting/writer friend Sylvia Shults has been doing a presentation or two at the Psychic and Paranormal Expo out in either western Illinois or Iowa, and she has graciously invited me to tag along to share her vendor table and sell books. The Expo feels like coming home! There are aisles and aisles of vendors for Tarot card readings, mediums, crystals, art, jewelry, natural health and beauty products, angel readings, Reiki treatments, and all sorts of things that would drive the average skeptic screaming from the room but are a lot of fun for the rest of us. The best thing is eavesdropping on people talking about dead relatives visiting, auras, bad energy in their houses, and other topics that pull my focus as soon as I hear certain words. Like “ghost” or “medium.” People who stop at our table frequently will share a ghost story or strange experience with us, and that’s just awesome.

However, much as I love this Expo, I have realized there are conventions and conferences devoted strictly to the supernatural, and boy, would I love to go to one of those. (Bucket list, anyone?)

There’s a huge one in Sault Ste. Marie every year, and it costs megabucks and sells out in a flash. It’s already sold out for 2019 (it’s happening August 22-24) but I can understand why. In addition to presentations on things like paranormal investigation, psychic abilities, demonology, and UFOlogy, they have big-name guests. And I do mean big names: The Dead Files’ own Amy Allen; Ghost Hunters Grant Wilson, Steve Gonsalves, and Dave Tango; ex-Ghost Hunters turned Kindred Spirits Amy Bruni and Adam Berry; my favorite collector John Zaffis and his “tech guy” Brian Cano; even psychic Chip Coffey. And that’s just page one of their listings. Would I love to go to that? In a heartbeat.

There’s also something called The Horror Expo-Ireland and that sounds pretty amazing itself. Going to Ireland would be a dream. Going to Ireland and also attending The Horror Expo might sound like a nightmare, but it’s even dreamier for me. They last held it on Halloween, 2018, and I can’t find a listing for 2019 anywhere. But I did sign up for their updates, so we’ll see if I hear anything and I’ll be sure to share, in case any of you are wandering across the pond at an opportune time.

The closest I’ve ever gotten to a straight-up ghost convention was about six years ago. Sylvia was again doing a presentation and also helping out with a paranormal investigation down in Okawville, Illinois. Yes, that’s a real place. Everyone who signed up for her talk and for the investigation got to stay on-site of the event, which was taking place in the Original Springs Mineral Spa & Hotel. The hotel dates back to the nineteenth century and is haunted, so everyone joining in the fun got to stay overnight, eat one of the hotel’s famous fried-chicken dinners, and would then be equipped with investigative devices like EMF detectors. I’m sure someone had a spirit box or Ovilus as well.

Jim and I spent the night BEFORE the event (we were actually on our way to Springfield by way of Breese to take a look at the famous Cholera Cross), but we got to see Sylvia speak. Sorry to say we missed the chicken dinner!

It was fun watching everyone growing more and more excited as the time of the investigation drew closer. This was an enthusiastic bunch, primed for anything paranormal and gleeful with anticipation. I almost envied that. Almost: still not ready to go on a ghost hunt myself!

If that was just a small taste of the excitement generated at a ghost convention, I really want to go. I’ve done Comic Con and seen what those passionate about Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones can come up with in their native stomping grounds. They were a lot of fun, too. But I sure would love the opportunity to compare and contrast those super-fans with the followers of the paranormal.

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