Last weekend I attended, and spoke at, the annual Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. After no less than a 19-hour drive (with Cryptomundo's Craig Woolheater), I got into town around 4.00 p.m., Friday afternoon. This was not just my first time to speak at the festival - it was also my very first visit to Point Pleasant, period. And, I can definitely say, a fine time was had by one and all.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I was not disappointed in the slightest. Of course, the one thing that - more than any other - dominates Point Pleasant is its huge, metal bridge. As those that know the Mothman story will be aware, the town's original Silver Bridge collapsed into the cold waters of the Ohio River in December 1967, sending dozens of people to their deaths.
The old bridge has long been replaced by a new one, but that doesn't take away the fact that there is something slightly ominous about driving over the new bridge, pondering on those long-gone events and deaths of the winter of 1967.
What I particularly enjoyed about the Mothman Festival is the fact that it has a very different vibe to most paranormal events. Yes, the lectures were held in a theater, but most of the action took place out in the streets. The roads in downtown Point Pleasant were shut down for the weekend, and were filled with numerous stalls, tables, vendors, and vans, selling all manner of things.
Stan Gordon was there, promoting his excellent work on the Bigfoot-UFO connection. Andy Colvin had a couple of tables filled to the brim with all the many and varied books he has reprinted over the last few months - as well as his own recent output on Mothman. Rosemary Ellen Guiley was busy selling books. And Jeff Wamsley - the author of the book, Mothman: Behind the Red Eyes - ensured that everything ran to order.
As for me, I was there to give a lecture on worldwide entities similar to Mothman, such as the U.K.'s Owlman, the weird winged thing of Trempealeau Mountain, Wisconsin, and the strange saga of the "flying man" of England's Cannock Chase woods. It was a lecture that went down well with the two hundred or so people in attendance.
Moving away from the conventional side of things, it's time to get back to the streets. There were people selling Mothman themed t-shirts, bandanas, fridge-magnets, posters, baseball caps, bumper-stickers, and much more. I know, as I bought a fair amount of those things!
Mothman, himself, was on-hand too, to allow people to have their photo taken with him. Well, okay, it was actually a guy in a fairly impressive monster suit! But you guessed that, right? People dressed as the Men in Black prowled the streets - with scowling, unsmiling looks on their faces. Even some of the festival attendees dressed as the moth-like one.
Then there is the town's Mothman Museum, which I recommend to everyone. This is a great facility - which, over the course of the weekend, a couple of thousand people passed through. The museum really takes a person back to the 1960s, when all of the crazy, curious and downright sinister action was taking place.
Old newspaper reports abound, as do cool B&W pictures from that era. Entire sections of the museum are devoted to John Keel, Mary Hyre, the MIB, the collapse of the bridge and - of course - Mothman himself. The museum also offers the visitor the chance to really see what things were like back then.
Additional entertainment came in the form of a couple of rock bands and a Mothman pageant. There was plenty to eat and drink (including local delicacies). And, a local TV news crew was on-hand to capture the lowdown around town.
The Mothman Festival is chiefly based around the town's world-famous monster. And, it has an atmosphere that the entire family can embrace, and which makes for a fun two days and nights. In that sense, out of major tragedy, something positive has surfaced. I hope that the festival continues indefinitely and that, one day, I'll be back.
If you haven't checked out the Mothman Festival, don't worry - 2015's is already being planned!