What was the first metaphysical expo in Austin?
Long-time Austin psychic Elaine Ireland remembers the early 70’s at Aqua Fest, a ten-day August event featuring Town Lake drag boat racing, “Ethnic Nights,” and the créme de la créme” of Austin society riding in river parades.
Seems numerologist Rita Brown did a reading for someone on the Board of Directors and got invited to read in the circular hallway around the old Palmer Auditorium, a geodesic dome where the Long Center now stands. Five or six readers came along, including Ireland.
“We started every day at noon and read until 9pm, ” she recalls. “There was a line all day, and the reader that was available was who next person in line got.”
Fast forward to 1994, two years before the big Whole Life Expo hit town, when Julie Wilson debuted Austin’s Metaphysical Fair. Declining health forced Wilson to step down in 1999, and she bequeathed her beloved event to Latrell Maples, who ran it until 2011 – when life once again intervened, and the Metaphysical Fair once again got bequeathed.
Integrity, and a left brain
The bequeathee this time was Marilyn Waggoner, who wasn’t a metaphysical practitioner, but was well versed in the community. With an engineering background (inspecting planes for the Navy, and hospitals for OSHA), she brought a new element to a metaphysical world not always grounded in the everyday world – a left brain, ready to organize, make decisions, and revitalize the event.
“I’m on the floor every hour, talking to exhibitors, listening to feedback. You can’t do an event like this without the utmost integrity.” She screens every applicant, and when a waiting list developed for exhibitors for the renamed Metaphysical Life Fair, she started another quarterly two-day event strictly for holistic practitioners – the Holistic Life Fair, naturally.
Along the way, her Spiritual Life Productions picked up the Spirit of All That Is Holistic Healing Art Fair held at Nature’s Treasures (a monthly Saturday event with lower booth rentals and free admission), the online Austin Alchemist company, and an Aura Photography business.
Asked if she’s planning on branching out into, say, metaphysical wedding chapels and dog grooming parlors, she laughs and shrugs. “We could use a lot of people in our corner right now.”
Article by Michael Abedin
Publisher and Editor of Austin All Natural Magazine
Re-printed with the permission of Austin All Natural magazine, copyright © August 2014 edition.