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What To-Do With Your Town’s Ghosts

Two options lie ahead, to fight against or to nurture your town’s legend, lore and history!

The following is an excerpt with permissions from the book The Van Meter Visitor – A True & Mysterious Encounter With The Unknown

“”Final Thoughts

ReflectionsA glance back on my time chasing legends through Van Meter and my optimism for their future.

…Van Meter may be at a crossroads regarding its unique past and how it decides to handle it into the future. Fighting against your own history is like battling a mountain you’re trying to climb. You will more often be additionally successful if you figure out how to adapt to the mountain’s environment. By utilizing the ideal routes on the Mountain, during the safer times of the day and night you increase your chances of success. This is one way I’ve come back from many a climbing expedition when others in footsteps very near my own have not. Professional mountaineers often voice; find a way to work with the mountain, not against it. I personally find many connections to purported paranormal hot spots and how the nearby communities respond. Countless times I’ve researched places that have plunked down fences, restricted hours, nailed up no-trespassing signs and pay for their local policing departments to patrol and ticket those who wander too close with curiosity. Of the few places that have embraced their new environments, I have viewed only wild successes.

Trying to control by restriction, and receiving instinctive push back from those inquisitive minds, one creates a naturally negative environment. Neglecting peoples positive attempts to gleam knowledge ‘first hand’ often times nurtures a dangerous set of conditions in these isolated locations. Others that embrace and package their history have regularly done so with great reward. By putting in the same effort as the alternative one can accomplish offering tours instead of tickets. It can cost less to present trash bins and a light as opposed to fences with locked gates. Hanging informative placards that preserve the accurate history, instead of posting no-trespassing signs can change the unconscious impressions; from thoughts of rebelling to that of learning through exploration. Van Meter, of course, doesn’t necessarily have one clear epicenter to ‘defend’ or ‘cultivate.’ The entire town has a uniquely fantastic history of events woven through it. This presents the best opportunity in my mind, something the entire town can get behind. To whatever extent the individual person or establishment feels comfortable, there is something for everyone from Van Meter to embrace.

Narrowing positive efforts to a community focused event presents more than a few opportunities during – Visitor Days! Basically, an annual festival themed around their unique history. Personally, I’ve always thought that themes make a party. This would be a great excuse for the townsfolk and other ‘visitors’ to enjoy each other’s company. I’ve lived in towns as small as 4,000 and this kind of festival can easily be done and with no budget. It just takes one motivated individual to get things started. With a little luck, you’ll be able to create a little agreement between those in charge. Then get to work, and it’s not that much the first year.

Set out some sawhorses on each end of the Main Street cordoning off the block and you’ve got your location. [Image Inserted In Book] There is always a group of kids nearby trying to get their band off the ground that would happily play for the exposure. Maybe a group of retirees that plays music together to get out of the house. Either way you’ve got your entertainment. Every small town has a bar and would usually jump at the opportunity to fire up a beer tent, and now you’ve got your entertainment for the over 21 crowd! I’d swing back through for the signature drink alone, the Visitor’s Shadow (don’t tell the tourists it’s just a Black Russian garnished with a black licorice stick). Heck even the local Lions Club or the like would appreciate the chance to grill up some burgers and brats at their own expense to raise funds for their endeavors. That is a great first year for the Annual Visitor Days in Van Meter, Iowa.


Even the late September anniversary of the creature sightings works well with the weather and segues stylishly into the Halloween season! The options are endless for engaging the residents. The Van Meter Visitor’s Chase can loop through the town with folks jogging or walking for a small fee that helps to raise money for any worthy town expense. The Van Meter High School can hold a contest for its students to design the “official” shirt each year and the proceeds can go to raise funds for the library or some local need different every year. Before you know it, the town draws in venders willing to pay to set up their small booth for the arts and crafts fair. The possibilities only limited by the motivation and imagination of the people powering the event. This all can be as extravagant or relaxed as they feel comfortable with.

This does create a great opportunity to draw in tourists. Of course, it’s nothing to be ashamed of but with sightseers does come their dollars and a lot of good for the community. The more tourists there are, the better the local businesses do. This allows them to expand and offer more convenient services to, not only the occasional traveler, but to the residents year round. The more tourist dollars that come in, the more taxes are carried by non-residents and eventually less tax money is needed from the residents. It is good to have choices and clearly Van Meter has many to choose from. Having choices can be a supremely exciting place to be. [Image Inserted In Book]

I happily wonder how many more places right here in America might have their own odd and unexplained events in their history, as of yet undocumented by outsiders. Despite how I am greeted or treated when I show up, I have hope. Where will our adventures take us next? Wherever we land, whatever story we dig up in the future, I hope you find the written account of our exploration worthy of your time.””


Please visit the books website to purchase or for more information, images, excerpts and official news about upcoming events and programs connected with the book!


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