DAVENPORT — More than 1,000 people, 67 vendors and 45 presentations piled into the RiverCenter last weekend to get a little closer to paranormal activity.
Kelly McCarville, of Cedar Rapids, and her mother, Pat Kraft, of Hiawatha, co-hosted the annual Quad Cities Paranormal Expo, which ran Nov. 17-18.
"Our vendors are like family," Kraft said. "Many come back year after year. In addition to people from Iowa, people come from as far away as Hawaii, New York and England."
McCarville, whose business name is Mystical Moonspinner, began hosting the two-day expos seven years ago. A medium and psychic since her teens, she said her "real job" was as a cost analyst for an aero defense company and she convinced her mother to help her host the event.
Kraft said she and her mother started their metaphysical journey together.
"The house that we lived in in Hiawatha was haunted," Kraft said. "The man who lived there was an undertaker. After he died he would often come back to visit. We could all see and hear him."
“What is special about an expo like this is the people involved all have a desire to help people," Kraft said. "I wanted people to be able to experience the metaphysical. What started as a small event has expanded to five cities."
This year the pair hosted two-day events in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Ames and Davenport. The first Waterloo event is planned in March.
Vendor registration for the expos begins several months in advance, with space allotted on a first come, first served basis.
"Some vendors go to all locations, some choose one or two," McCarville said. "Last year we were at the TaxSlayer (Center in Moline). Because it was round, it was harder to lay out space. The square layout of the Mississippi Room at the RiverCenter allowed for 13 new vendors this year."
McCarville offered Hemelite bracelets and pendulums at her booth, along with readings as a medium. She also brought her teenage children to help and, with paranormal investigation experience, she also served on several panels.
Both the TaxSlayer Center and the RiverCenter can handle two presentations simultaneously.
"We always have more people signing up for presentations than we have room for," McCarville said. "To determine what is being presented, we first find out from the previous year what people in the area want to learn about. Then (we) take the first person to register to speak on that particular subject."
Kraft said there is no official vetting of participants, but the hosts make a point of observing each, especially in their first year at an expo.
“The Quad-Cities paranormal expo is a unique experience that allows the community to see different forms of healing and experience part of the world they might not have experienced," said participant Ellen Schwartz of Davenport. "PrismScapes (of Cedar Rapids) is one of my favorite booths because all of their healers are knowledgeable, caring people and genuinely believe in what they do."
Six people worked the PrismsScape booth. Gina Croscheck said the expo is close enough for her daughter and her husband to come from Indiana and help, as well as her husband, George, and two store employees. George Croscheck said he's happy to come back year after year because he has made so many friends.
“Every expo opening we have a group ceremony acknowledging all the vendors," Kraft said. "There is an opportunity to catch up on all the new births, sickness, death, marriage, new shops etc. Then we say a prayer of thanks that we all came together and ask that we have another wonderful expo."
Paranormal investigators were celebrities at the event.
Rex Neilsen, a paranormal investigator with All Out Paranormal and a police officer in Oelwein, Iowa, was one of the event's attendees. His art is sold at Moon River Magic in East Moline.
"I started doing art again to support my paranormal investigation work," said Neilsen. "Equipment is expensive."
Also present was Coyote Chris Sutton, of Alton, whose paranormal group was been featured in Ghost Lab in 2009 and seen on The Dead Files in 2013 investigating a Rock Island case. A Shamanic practitioner who provides "spiritual advisement paranormal investigations," Sutton said he was called to deal with a property in Rock Island where a Keokuk Native American Spirit was harassing children.
“There were several problems with the house but the Native American Spirit was fine after he was given respect and talked to," Sutton said. "I explained to him that the people in the house were not the ones who took his land. We then gave him an offering of food and blessed the land and cleansed the house."