Paranormal experts to convene for Dunkirk Lighthouse festival

Don’t know what that strange sound in your empty house was? How about that floating shadow in the background of your family picture? Instead of going to the paranormal experts, why not have the experts come to you?

This Saturday, the local area will be bustling with paranormal activity, as the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Military Park plays host to the inaugural Haunted Chautauqua Festival, put on by Village Haunts and Beyond Ghosts. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features various ghost hunter groups and researchers of the unexplainable, from all across the region and as far away as Central New York and Cleveland, Ohio.

“Doing an all-day festival, this is the first time we’ve done something like this at Dunkirk Lighthouse,” said Don Traynor, event co-organizer and local ghost investigator. “It’s a great collection of people, a lot of groups and vendors and interesting folks coming together, and they’re going to be ready for the public and they can’t wait to talk to them.

This is going to be the place to be if you’re into ghosts and investigating paranormal activity or even if you are curious and want to check something off of a bucket list.”

Dave Briska of the Dunkirk Lighthouse said he is excited for the festival and hopes to see a lot of people come out to explore the lighthouse grounds.

“We do have ghosts in the lighthouse and people are always finding it very interesting when they come through,” he said. “We even have a picture of some of the ghosts that are in the house. This festival is a great way of getting people on the property and getting them interested in visiting the lighthouse.”

Traynor explained the idea behind the festival first arose after a couple years of Village Haunts assisting the lighthouse and other historic locations in holding public investigations as fundraising avenues for historical preservation.

“We’ve had a lot of success at Dunkirk Lighthouse over the past three or four years, holding between six and seven events every year that almost always sell out,” Traynor added. “My friends at Beyond Ghosts in Buffalo, who have traditionally done one public investigation every August, said, ‘Hey, why don’t we collaborate and do an all-day festival and invite a lot of groups in, a lot of vendors, psychics and people into the metaphysical, unusual and spiritual stuff?'”

Traynor said the Saturday festival will offer a bit of “something for everyone,” for those who believe and for those that want to believe. Attendees will be able to go around the lighthouse grounds and learn about equipment, get readings done, buy books on the paranormal and converse with the living about the dead. Daytime lighthouse tours will also be available to festival-goers.

A jam-packed lecture schedule is also a highlight of the event; every hour, experts will be discussing various topics related to ghosts. Lecturers should include Stephanie Bingham, who has appeared on the Syfy Channel’s “School Spirits” program and helps with the show’s production; Chip Reichenthal, radio personality for the Para-X Radio Network program “Keeping the Spirits Alive”; cousins Peter Leonard and Dave DeProspero from the ghost hunter group Rome Investigators of the Paranormal; Heidi LaDow, paranormal historian; and Susan Stush, psychic medium.

Many other groups and individuals will also be available to talk to at the festival.

After the sun sets over Lake Erie (from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.), Village Haunts and Beyond Ghosts will hold a live ghost hunting investigation of the Dunkirk Lighthouse.

“People will split off into groups and the leaders will have voice recorders, cameras and K-II meters and we’ll do a little ‘Para 101’ to tell people about our experiences and the places we’ve been, and then we’ll go live into the lighthouse and do some investigating,” Traynor said, adding tickets for that event must be purchased separately and cost $30.

Tickets for the Haunted Chautauqua Festival are $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door. Pre-sale tickets may be bought online at

A significant portion of the proceeds go directly to the Dunkirk Lighthouse.

For more information on the festival and to check out biographies on the various speakers, go to the Facebook event page by searching, “The Haunted Chautauqua Festival at Dunkirk Lighthouse & Military Park.”

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