Unexplained conference in Eau Claire


By Lindsay Green


10/28/04 - Spectator

From mysterious informational conferences to local haunted houses, students at UW-Eau Claire can find something haunting about this Halloween. Halloween is often associated with unexplainable things such as Friday the 13th, crop circles and flying spirits. This year it also will be associated with Eau Claire.

Anyone who has a desire to learn about the findings in the spirit world, or even the findings in their own backyard, might be interested in the upcoming Unexplained Conference in Eau Claire.

On Saturday, the Plaza Hotel and Suites, 1202 W. Clairemont Ave, will be lit up with black lights and spooky presentations by three paranormal researchers: Linda Godfrey, Rick Hendricks and Chad Lewis. Each speaker will cover topics featuring hundreds of paranormal cases throughout America, including ghostly footsteps heard at The Mousetrap Bar, the Ghost of Elk Lake Dam, the Wisconsin werewolf and the Crop Circles of Chippewa Falls, Lewis said.

The conference "is a chance for the general public to see real life X-Files taking place in their own community," said Lewis, a paranormal researcher from UW-Stout who is sponsoring the Unexplainable Conference.

"The conference showcases the strange side of the Chippewa Valley from UFOs and crop circles to haunted places and strange animals," he said.

Hollywood movies like "Signs" and "E.T." have included aliens and crop circles and "The Ring" had unusual stories about post-death creatures fulfilling a deed on earth.

"No one ever thinks (these) creatures are real because they're in fantasy movies made in Hollywood," freshman Amanda Baldinus said. "They don't have a lasting effect on an audience."

Students might have different attitudes toward supernatural activity after attending the conference.

"Many of the cases revolve around places that they know of and may have even been to before, yet they did not know the grisly stories that are associated with the place," Lewis said.

The conference will specifically explain stories about "the top five haunted places of the Chippewa Valley," which are Fire Station Number 10, Sheeley House and Saloon, Kjer Theater, Lakeview Cemetery and Amy's Ritz.

Students from Eau Claire may be particularly interested in the Kjer Theater mystery because it "hits close to home," Lewis said.

"Many witnesses report seeing the ghost of Earl Kjer sitting in his favorite seat in the theater, just as he did while he was living," Lewis said. "While working late at night, several janitors have reported seeing Earl disappear right before their eyes."

Many of the findings are previously considered to be folklore and urban legends, but these speakers present credible evidence that is guaranteed to make skin crawl. "(My presentation will feature) over 200 slides showcasing the most haunted places right here in the Chippewa Valley," Lewis said. "I will show the evidence that I have collected and provide directions so you can visit these places for yourself."

"I feel that students will truly enjoy this presentation because it is a topic that many students find fascinating," Lewis said. "Halloween is the time to discuss the bizarre and unusual."

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