Greetings from America, and salutations to our fellow explorers into the world of the paranormal and the anomalous. In my first few blogs I have necessarily decided that I would cover the various paranormal conferences throughout the US simply because I am in that circuit. Last week we reviewed the soggy and bitter chill of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Weekend. This week, we shall stay in my home state and review the premiere of another conference.
Sponsored by the Ligonier Valley Writers, this rather ambitious conference was the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania. It was a full day of speakers and featured two stars of the paranormal lecture circuit-- John Ventre and Stan Gordon, the latter being a staple of any paranormal gathering in the tri-state area. Although there was no lack of planning, the venue, a volunteer fire hall, was a bit off the beaten path and, owing to the fact that its very existence was debated on most GPS systems, one nearly needed a requisite Indian guide to find the place. The conference started off with only four paid attendees, but the day ended with nearly nineteen in the audience. I must also point out that the $20 admission fee was a bit steep for a first time event, and the five vendors in attendance-- of which I was one-- did quite poorly in sales.
My first conference selfie.
Okay, enough complaining. Let us get into the meat and potatoes of the damn thing, shall we?
Ed Kelemen opens the show
The schedule opened up with Ed Kelemen. Ed is a rather prolific writer of paranormal events, folklore, and documents sightings of the strange. Ed spoke on the general platform of haunts, what exactly is a haunting, looked at folklore, and even examined several hoaxes. He has a rather down-home approach to story telling which is engaging but there was no true scholarship involved in his presentation. His talk would have been more appropriate huddled around a Halloween bonfire than at a conference, but alas that is how the day commenced.
Next to speak was Beverly LaGorga, a psychic-medium who spoke about her abilities and having to deal with her gifts ever since she was a child. The book she co-authored, Entitled "We Don't Talk About Such Things" was the primary focus of her lecture. She obviously was rather new to the public speaking field, but in the end she was engaging. Again, nothing of note to further the field of Fortean studies, but an interesting talk about mediumship.
There were several authors who spoke on the art of horror writing. It was interesting from the standpoint of an author, but the inclusion of these artists truly disrupted the day. The needed flow was diverted and the few in attendance seemed bored. Believe me, Sheldon Higdon, a very imaginative author, gave some great advice on writing. However, there were no writers in the 6 people who listened to his lecture. Stephanie Wytovich, a horror poetry writer, read some of her works, but again she was under appreciated by those listening. But John Ventre really enlivened the conference like a jolt of caffeine.
John is a multi-state director for the Mutual UFO Network. He is also well-known in the media wold. His show, Hangar 18, had a viewership on the History Channel of nearly 2 million people. He also has appeared on Anderson Cooper. This day John spoke about his haunted life and his involvement with demonic attachment.
John contends that the Greys are in actuality demon, more specifically fallen angels. He also contended that the space craft often seen are merely implanted memories by these entities. John spoke for nearly two hours, and left the audience intrigued. He never ventured into the idea of the Goblin Universe, a field I am utterly bewitched with, but he was the highlight of this particular conference.
The crowd favourite, Stan Gordon, spoke about the Kecksburg UFO crash that occurred in the bucolic setting of farmlands in rural Western Pennsylvania in the 1960s as well as speaking about Bigfoot and other cryptids. He has been doing conferences for over 40 years, so his presentation is precise and flows smoothly. He answered questions and intelligently engaged the audience.
So my friends, this was, in a nutshell, the first ever Laurel Highlands Paranormal and Horror Fest. It was indeed disjointed. The multimedia presentations were shoddy due to equipment failure, It was poorly attended. But it was a paranormal conference. And thanks to Stan Gordon and John Ventre, this little gather did explore questions. Questions to which we all seek the answers.
Talk soon my friends.