That opportunity came in the form of the Grave City Haunted Relic Expo!
The first annual Grave City Haunted Relic Expo was a three-hour event held on Saturday, January 20th, 2018 at the Sanford Center in Moundsville, WV. The expo was put on by Steve Hummel. Steve is a paranormal investigator, a member of Paranormal Quest, and the owner/curator of the Archive of the Afterlife Museum. You might remember that this past summer, Luke, Aaron, and I took a mini-vacation to Moundsville and visited the museum (located on the 2nd floor of the Sanford Center) for the first time. It was a really cool place, filled to the brim with haunted/possessed/cursed objects, funerary antiques, and much more. Read about our experience HERE.
Anyway, I decided that it would be a great start to 2018 to attend this expo. I then took it a step further and signed up as a vendor! My main goal was simply to promote Theresa's Haunted History, but I made a few stationary sets, coasters, and other goodies to sell in hopes of breaking even on my table fee.
Luckily, my friend Bree was able to make the 3+ hour drive up to Moundsville with me, and was even nice enough to craft some beautiful hand-made dowsing rods to sell at our table. We left around lunchtime on Saturday and made the long trek up north. Once we got past Parkersburg, we had to leave the interstate and travel the rest of the way on two-lane roads. However, it was a beautiful drive, and we passed through a ton of quaint little historic towns.
Since we arrived before set-up time, we wanted to explore the city a little. We knew that the prison was closed for the season, so unfortunately we couldn't take a guided tour, but we did drive around it a few times. I love visiting the penitentiary and I love investigating the penitentiary even more. We have plans on returning in the near future for another investigation of this wonderful location. But, since we couldn't actually get in, we decided to drive out to the prison cemetery.
The cemetery was surprisingly easy to find, but we were disappointed that we couldn't actually get to it! Last week, West Virginia got hit hard with winter weather and despite this weekend warming up considerably, the parking area for the cemetery was completely covered in a thick layer of snow, and the path to it across the stream was fully washed out. I just have a little Nissan Sentra, so there was no way I was going to attempt to park and wade across the ice cold water, lol. But, at least when we come back next time, we'll know exactly where to go.
But back to the expo itself! The weather had thwarted our plans of exploration, so we got to the Sanford Center a little earlier than expected and went ahead in. We first went upstairs to take a peek around the Archive of the Afterlife Museum, which had undergone a few display changes since I had been there last. We then got the go-ahead to start setting up downstairs in the gym for the event. There were plenty of other paranormal teams/investigators and even lots of tables selling non-paranormal related merchandise to browse through. After getting set up and waiting for the speakers to start, we got in a few excellent minutes to talk with some of the other vendors/presenters/guests.
The guest speaker line-up started right on time, at 6pm, kicking off with a talk by investigator Dave Spinks. Dave was followed by Doug Waller, a Bigfoot researcher with the Southeastern Ohio Society for Bigfoot Investigation. Following Doug was Bill Baker of Mountain State Paranormal. A young man known only as The Mothman Historian then gave a talk on the history of Mothman and recent sightings before we broke for a brief intermission.
During intermission, we had another chance to talk with so many wonderful people who were able to share their stories and experiences with us, learn a little about Theresa's Haunted History, and luckily, buy a little of our merch! Since this was a Haunted Relic expo, I brought two of my own haunted items for display, a Bible from 1816 and a locket of hair, sold to me as a memento mori. My mom is convinced the locket is haunted, and shortly after purchasing the Bible, we had a rash of unexplained occurrences in my home. No one picked up anything from the Bible, but several people who examined the locket were a little unnerved about its energy.
The evening wrapped up with one last presentation. Steve and another member of his team gave a talk about their paranormal investigation experiences...but then also gave a really fascinating presentation on some of the museum's recent haunted acquisitions. By the time their talk had ended, it was 9pm and time to start packing up!
Overall, this was a great experience for me and a great way to start off a new year of paranormal fun. I enjoyed the speakers and their wide range of topics. I appreciated the fact that everything was right there in the same room---the vendors were set up around the perimeter of the gym, with chairs for guests in the middle, and a small stage upfront for speakers. One of the things I dislike about the Mothman Festival, is that if I'm there at my table, I cannot easily go down and watch the presentations. With this set-up, I could watch my booth AND watch the presentations.
|The Mothman Historian|
Unfortunately, that did have a downside as well....you couldn't really hear the speakers if the vendors were trying to talk. And, with only 3 hours of expo time, most of which was filled with back-to-back speakers, we vendors really didn't get a lot of free time to interact with visitors to the expo. For the next event, I would love to see a little more downtime between presentations, or even a little more time before or after the event, but other than that, it went surprisingly well, especially for a first-year event. Everyone was very nice and professional. I love talking to other paranormal enthusiasts about my favorite topic, and was thrilled that some people there were familiar already with my work. I was even more thrilled that we sold enough to pay for our table fee AND gas money to the event!
I would definitely recommend checking out any further events hosted by Steve, and hopefully, I'll be able to attend additional events as well. To keep up-to-date on future events, or if you want more information on the museum, which is open year round, you can follow the Archive of the Afterlife on Facebook.
Stay Spooky, ya'll...and I'll catch ya again real soon.