Spooky or skeptical
There's something in the San Antonio air as the seasons change. Be it spirits or just a much needed cold front, one spooky inn is making sure locals get to revel in it. The San Antonio Paranormal Fest has crept in on the fog once again at Victoria's Black Swan Inn, for a weekend of festivities from September 15-17.
A fall festival at an inn may sound quaint until attendees see the long list of offerings organized in partnership with Curious Twins Paranormal & Ghost Tours: Tours of the haunted inn with resident psychic readings; an artisan market, open bar, snacks, and food trucks; onsite photography and photo booth; fire performers, speakers, and more spellcasting goodness.
This event will be a real who's-who of paranormal life in San Antonio — not just people who love a gothy aesthetic, but people who have devoted time and expertise to learning more about these otherwordly phenomena. Jo Ann Marks-Rivera, who both owns and lives in the house, shares stories with the community about the house's history and the strange things she's seen there.
"I always look forward to bringing as many people together as I can to share experiences regarding all of the mysteries of the Paranormal field," Marks-Rivera writes in to CultureMap. "Death and what happens to us after has long been an interest to people. I have the privilege to be a part of what has now become a full fledged field of investigation, not just a shadowy question of the impossible."
Speakers at the festival (as listed on the event's Facebook page) include:
- Producer, Author & Paranormal Investigator, Ryan Buell: Host of the TV A&E show Paranormal State and executive producer for the feature film, American Ghost Hunter
- Psychic Medium Sarah Lemos: Featured on Ghosts of Morgan City, The Ghost Town Terror, and Portals To Hell
- Cryptozoologist & Author Ken Gearhart (@therealkengerhard): Featured on Ancient Aliens, Legend Hunters, The Unexplained Files, True Monsters, and more
- Demonologist & Paranormal Investigator, James Annito
- Ghost Box Experts & Owners of Magick Moon Metaphysical, Chris & Dee Moon (@mooniepix & @deeparanormal321)
- Afterlife Connection Specialist & Intuitive, Tracy St. Croi: Host of The Haunted Road Trips Show with Tracy St. Croi
- Paranormal Putas Podcast (@paranormal.putas)
- Women in the Paranormal Panel
This event is obviously geared toward visitors who enjoy the inquisitive side of paranormal topics. But according to Marks, this is actually a great place for skeptics to explore. The many experts and enthusiasts onsite will bring experience "from the field," and can answer questions — either with sincere answers, or assurances that other people are wondering the same things. Topics with an academic bent will include quantum physics, folklore, aliens, and historical accounts.
"The biggest tip is to not be afraid to question things," says Marks-Rivera. "This is the perfect sort of place to walk among like-minded and curious people, [and] experience a moment in time when everything is possible. If this is a person's first time to the property, I suggest they take time to wander, explore, and experience the energy of the property. The chance to meet so many others with similar questions and experiences but no judgment is really empowering."
When these visitors are exploring the property, they are encouraged to reflect upon the Battle of Salado Creek, which Marks-Rivera says took place on the property. Fought on September 18, 1842, this battle was plagued by heavy rains and untamed river crossings. Despite these challenges, a Texan militia of barely more than 200 prevailed against a Mexican army of 1,600, and drove French-Mexican commander General Adrián Woll to retreat to Mexico.
The Paranormal Fest at Victoria's Black Swan Inn is held as a tradition as close to the anniversary, and honors soldiers who died in the struggle, including Steven Jett, who was reportedly the only Texan to die. The property acknowledges the souls that are tied to the land.
Online pre-sale tickets are sold out, but there will still be tickets available at the door if visitors don't mind a wait. There will be plenty more opportunities to visit the inn year-round. Coming up next are opportunities to book vow exchanges at the inn (October 13), a "dark circus" (October 21), and the Festival of the Dead Masquerade (November 4).
"I find it fascinating when people are willing to openly share their experiences, and I especially enjoy meeting new people that have been touched, in one way or another, by the paranormal side of life," says Marks-Rivera. "It is wonderful to see the movement towards acceptance of the possibility of Life after Death. We have been very arrogant in our belief that we are walking our paths alone."
She concludes, "Events such as our annual Paranormal Fest help open doors to these topics, conversations, and ideas that there is absolutely more to our world than just us...."
A schedule of events from September 15-17 is available on Facebook.