By Tea Krulos, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference director
I want to start by thanking all the conference guest speakers, volunteers, vendors, attendees, everyone who participated in the event. I think it was a great conference and proud I was able to get so many wonderful people to work with me. We brought a few guest speakers– Loren Coleman, Katrina Weidman, Elizabeth Saint, Chase Kloetzke– to Milwaukee for the first time.
We worked hard to create an event that had cultural relevance and was accessible to both people heavily involved in paranormal research and people who were attending a conference like this for the first time.
I’m going to go through things day by day. I’m going to focus on the positive– and I’m glad to say there’s a lot. That being said, 2016 was a major learning experience for us and I think I realize a lot of ways we can do a really great but more cost effective event in the future.
Friday, October 14
There was some confusion in our advertising. Was this a 3 day or a 2 day event? It was a 2 day event with some pre-conference activity the night before. Some people apparently thought there was one price point: $75. Tickets actually ranged from $10-$75, the $75 being a ticket level that included a dinner party, 2 days of conference, Raven’s Ball, and a gift bag.
VIP Dinner Party
Our VIP dinner party was held at the Mitchell Park Pavilion on the Lagoon and was for conference guest speakers and people who paid for a VIP pass. It was a nice social event, a chance for guest speakers to meet each other and conference attendees. We had great food from a guest Chef and wonderful music from cellist Janet Schiff. VIP sales led to the event breaking even. Breaking even isn’t bad, but we were hoping the event would act as a fundraiser for other parts of the conference. It was such a good time, we would definitely consider doing something similar in 2017.
Paranormal Social Mixer at 42 Ale House
42 Ale House is awesome, our DJ Max Holiday was awesome, thanks much to BR Productions and the Racine Paranormal Investigators for help setting up the party room. It was fun talking to people, attendance was lower than the big dance party we expected. Perhaps people were wisely resting up for the big day that followed.
Milwaukee Theater Investigation with Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Ghosts Third Ward Walking Tour
PIM did two investigation sessions Friday night, both of which were SOLD OUT. We hear there was strange activity captured– theater seats moving on their own and a ghostly toliet flush. We’ll pass on any evidence/ reports PIM puts out on investigation. Sounds like an intriguing night! Our friend Allison Jornlin’s Milwaukee Ghosts-Tours and Investigations also hosted Third Ward walking tours Friday and Saturday night, both also SOLD OUT.
Saturday, October 15
Big day number 1! So much going on, so let’s break it down room by room.
Vendor & Exhibition Hall
I thought the vendor floor looked really great, just what I envisioned– a great mix of authors, artists, investigation and tour groups, lots of stuff that defies categorization. We had 50 tables and a wide variety of people and interests represented. The ballroom was a nice facility for it.
Saturday featured workshops by Brew City Paranormal, Ron Schaefer, Society for Anomalous Studies, and Dark Star Ministry. Lots of positive feedback, the room really worked out well.
Everything went well in Ballroom West, and the room was often pretty full. We had presentations from Celeste Contreras, Kristan T. Harris as well as the “Best UFO Reports 2016” and “Searching for Wisconsin’s Sasquatch” panels.
Really solid and well attended presentations by Linda S. Godfrey, Allison Jornlin, Mary Marshall, Q and A w/ Katrina Weidman, The Roswell Debate, Loren Coleman.
The Raven’s Ball
The Raven’s Ball after party at the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center was a wonderful event. Attendance needed to be a bit higher, but the environment and performances were perfect. The Irish Center was great to work with and we’d love to do a similar event next year.
Sunday, October 16
Forest Home Cemetery Tour
We were worried about rain, but it turned out to be a beautiful fall morning. Our volunteer Brooke coordinated check in and had a very positive report on the tour, which was SOLD OUT. We would definitely do this again next year and might offer a morning and afternoon tour instead of just one.
Vendor & Exhibition Hall
Day 2 saw a couple of new vendors switch in. Here’s some more photos from the vendor floor.
More great workshops from Nick Roesler, Mary Marshall, luna, and Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee.
We did three panels: “Haunted Road Trip,” “Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends,” “Yow! My Business is Haunted!” and also had a reading by the winners of the MPC/ Cult of Weird short fiction contest winners.
A second day of great talks.
MPC Film Fest
We followed Sunday with a small film fest at the Underground Collaborative. I’m going to admit there were organization problems that were on me. I tried to do too much this year. More on that in a minute. Attendance wasn’t great, but we had a small enthusiastic crowd and some great films. Thanks to Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Fest for helping run the show.
See more pictures from the conference here:https://www.facebook.com/milwaukeeparanormalconference/photos/
Will a 2017 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference happen? I hope so, I really do. I think we are developing a fantastic network of people from all over the state and beyond, I think 2016 was a huge success despite some financial setbacks. We’ve already got some great ideas brewing about some things we would do the same and things should be done differently. But first, three VERY IMPORTANT things need to happen. None of these are optional:
- We need to raise funds to pay back money we owe for 2016. I need to be clear– this debt is not money I spent. I lost money, and that’s a different story. The money I need to fundraise is money I owe other people. So please help. There are a list of ways you can help below.
- We need a Board of Directors. I did most of the organization of the event this year and my personal life suffered greatly. In order to do it again I need a board of dedicated, hardworking people that can help me organize specific components of the conference. Some examples: Volunteer Coordinator, Vendor Hall Coordinator, Guest Services, Masquerade Ball Coordinator, Sponsorships. If point one on this list happens, we will be putting up a post about all the positions we are looking for and what they entail.
- We need a successful campaign to raise money in advance for 2017. I can not pay for advance costs (deposits on venues, printing, insurance, etc.) again next year. I just don’t have the means. So that means even more fundraising! The board of directors will have to determine how to accomplish such a task– a series of small fundraisers, benefit shows/ tours, sponsorships, bake sale, Sasquatch car wash, successfully pre-selling conference tickets, all of the above.Back to point one. Here’s how you can help us fundraise for our immediate debt:
-We currently have a GoFundMe rolling. Please contribute: https://www.gofundme.com/savempc
-We are doing an awesome MPC Fundraiser show Sunday, Oct.30 5-7pm at the Riverwest Public House:
-Both the Singular Fortean Society and Terrestrial Tarot are generously helping us out by donating a percent of their profits to us. Thanks so much! Click on their names to go to their sites. If you’re interested in fundraising for us, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Our awesome volunteer Marty is putting together a punk/metal benefit CD with a lot of awesome bands. Want to contribute? E-mail us at email@example.com and we’ll pass your message on to Marty. More details, including a release party TBA.
-Last, go to our Square store and buy our merch. We got a little of everything left over: https://squareup.com/market/milwaukee-para-con
I want to end by saying I hope the conference can go on. I appreciate everyone’s efforts to help. There are so many awesome people involved in a variety of capacities that seeing this end right when we’re really just getting going is a heartbreaking notion to me. With your help, we can return for a great event in 2017!