The unexplained, strange and unfamiliar phenomena.
They’ll be the topics of discussion at the inaugural ParaNomicon at The Mabel Tainter.
The two-day paranormal conference begins next Friday and it will bring in speakers and paranormal researchers who have devoted their lives to studying claims of the paranormal as they share their experiences with event attendees.
“A lot of people have experiences and they don’t know how to communicate it,” Executive Director of The Mabel Tainter Jeff McSweeney said. “Their family and friends may look at them and go ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re crazy’ so when you get together with other people that believe in the paranormal world like that, you find out that you’re not alone.”
The event has been in planning mode for three years when Justin Miner of Johnsdale Paranormal Group approached The Mabel Tainter about hosting a paranormal event at the theater. From there working with Dustyn Dubuque of Downtown Menomonie and Andrew Mercil president of The Mabel Tainter Board of Directors the group put together one of the few paranormal conferences in the area.
“We felt this was a great opportunity for this part of the country that otherwise wouldn’t have the ability to attend a paranormal conference,” McSweeney said.
The event will also be one of the rare occurrences of a paranormal conference being held directly in a building with a reputation for being haunted. Twelve speakers including keynote speaker Grant Wilson of “Ghost Hunters” will be presenting over the duration of the two days.
Also presenting on Saturday will be Miner, The International Paranormal Society’s Adrian Lee, Real Life Sci-Fi’s Willy Roberts and Wade Randolph, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016 Researcher of the Year Allison Jornlin, Travis Walton, whose story inspired the movie “Fire in the Sky”and Fox Valley Ghost Hunters’ Craig Nehring.
Friday’s lineup features Unexplained Research’s Terry Fisk, Northern Wisconsin Paranormal Society’s Kevin Malek, Singular Fortean Society’s Tobias Wayland, filmmaker, photographer and paranormal researcher Karl Pfeiffer and acoustic band Sunspot.
Wayland got into the paranormal world because of some unexplained experiences as a child. He has now made it his mission to help others with similar experiences. In 2016, he and his wife Emily started the Singular Fortean Society, a news outlet and investigative organization for the paranormal.
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“We want to provide a safe space and a community really for people to be able to talk about and share their experiences,” Wayland said, “because I think even though I’m going to turn 40 this year there’s still that scared kid inside who remembers what it was like to feel like I didn’t have anybody who I could talk to about my experiences.”
On Friday, he will be presenting on his work investigating anonymous reports of what people describe as a bat-like or bird-like flying humanoid around Lake Michigan.
Tickets are still available for the conference and can be purchased online at The Mabel Tainter’s website (mabeltainter.org). Two-day tickets are $125. Friday only tickets cost $60 and for just Saturday’s events are $85.
Tickets can also be purchased to be involved in investigations done in the theater lead by two of the event’s speakers. The Johnsdale Paranormal Group will lead an investigation on Thursday evening and Adrian Lee will lead an investigation group on Friday.
Vendors will also be at the conference. Visitors will be able to interact and learn about services provided by American Ghost Walks, Angel Care Healing Touch, Earthling Astrology, Midwest Paranormal Files, Project Origin, Psychic Tiff, Spirit Services LLC, The Military Medium and Twin Cities Paranormal Society.
Wayland hopes the conference can provide an opportunity for people to understand that others have had similar experiences as common responses when individuals reach out the Singular Fortean Society is they can’t find someone to share their unexplained experience with.
“You got these guys up there presenting stories but also the people get talk to each other and they get to talk with us and everybody and I really think it’s an opportunity for people to bond over this stuff,” Wayland said.
“Beyond that I hope people maybe learn a little something. I hope people can take away an expanded perspective for maybe leaning about phenomena that they’re not familiar with.”
A full schedule of speakers and more information about the conference can be found at mabeltainter.org/paranomicon-at-the-mabel.