EXETER, New Hampshire — Green inflatable aliens sitting in store windows greeted the hundreds of attendees Saturday as alien and science fiction lovers gathered to celebrate the 5th Exeter UFO Festival at town hall.
The extra terrestrial-centric festival is typically held every year on Labor Day weekend to celebrate the Incident in Exeter in 1965, when Norman Muscarello saw a 90-foot unidentified flying object in the sky.
Last year’s thunderstorm, however, put the festival out of commission after a bolt of lightning struck town hall. The bolt started a fire and, in turn, the sprinkler systems, causing so much damage the event wouldn’t be able to function.
It was a quite a disappointment to the Exeter Area Kiwanis Club that was planning on organizing the UFO festival for the first time.
William Smith, the club’s president and chairman of the UFO festival, said the club had the option to hold it at the high school, but decided to simply cancel the event and wait a year because it wouldn’t benefit the community and local businesses.
“Our thing is about children and community,” he said. “We want them to go and help out the merchants. The community would not have benefitted.”
The festival had three days worth of events to make up for the lost time. Saturday was the official start date, but the Kiwanis Club held a showing the film “E.T.” Thursday night as well as Cosmic Bowling Friday night.
Saturday was packed full of activities, starting as early as 8 a.m. UFO researchers, including Stan Friedman, and authors spoke to fans about their research and findings throughout the day, and the Kiwanis Club hosted a “crash landing” area for the kids. Essentially an area with filled with recyclable material, children gathered as much as they could to make unique crafts and decorations.
Many local stores and businesses took part in the celebration. The custom framing business A Pictures Worth, and wine and cheese market Cornucopia, were among the several businesses hosting specials and activities.
Cornucopia held a beer tasting of UFO’s white, raspberry, and pumpkin beers, while A Pictures Worth showcased UFO-related books.
Some attendees came dressed in tin foil hats and alien sunglasses with slanted lenses, but none were more passionate than R.W. Martin of Epping, who was dressed as a man in black.
Martin said aliens and UFOs always fascinated him ever since he was a child. When he heard Friedman was speaking Saturday, he had to show up.
“It’s been pretty cool,” he said.
Williams believes this year may have been the best-attended festival yet. Many speakers and attendees were anxious to return, he said, and this year hosted the most businesses and shops in the festival’s existence.
And that’s good, Williams said, because next year is the 50th anniversary of the Incident in Exeter. UFO experts and researchers have already contacted him to speak, and he thinks the festival will be able to easily attract thousands of fans from all over the country.
“Exeter is like a mini Mecca of the northeast for ufologists,” Williams said. “This is the springboard for the 50th anniversary.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services