UNUSUAL EVENT of NOTE: The Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
If you aren’t familiar with the tale of the Mothman, that’s okay. He doesn’t get as much high-profile attention as his fellow cryptids Bigfoot and Nessie. He doesn’t have the ancient cache of the Yeti or the sheer persistence of the Chupacabra. Nonetheless, every year around this time, thousands flock back to this river town to pay homage to the creature, its legacy and place in Point Pleasant history.
And to eat fried foods.
The tale of the Mothman is a fairly brief and simple one. The people of Point Pleasant saw this strange creature for about a year starting in November of 1966. Two couples reported to police that they saw, and were subsequently chased by, a “flying man with ten foot wings”. More people saw it over the next few weeks. In December of 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed, killing nearly fifty people. After that horrible accident, the Mothman sightings ceased, causing speculation that the creature and the incident were somehow connected.
The legend of the monster has grown over the years, and in 2002, the town held the first Mothman Festival, which has also flourished in the decade since. Like the 12-foot statue of Mothman erected that first year, the whole thing is very much bigger than life.
I attended again this year, as I have a number of times in the last few years. I certainly encourage you to check it out if you have the opportunity. It is definitely family-friendly and takes on the atmosphere of just about any festival in small town USA. It just has a little bit of a twist to it. They crown a Miss Mothman at a pageant on Friday, have a karaoke contest, and show movies (including The Mothman Prophecies, staring Richard Gere).
Other activities? Wander through the Mothman Museum, which features various artifacts from the sightings, props from the movie and headlines from the local paper; Take a hayride out to the locations of famous sightings; participate in the Mothman 5k; or visit vendor’s alley for Mothman t-shirts, comic books, buttons, mugs, or just about anything else with the Mothman on it.
This year, if you showed up on Sunday at noon, you got the opportunity to see a sneak preview of the Mothman play. If you missed it here, you’ll have to wait for the touring company to come to your town.
The food is also tinged with the specter of Mothman as well. There are some amazing festival delicacies that I’ve had a hard time saying no to. Mothman Pancakes, anyone?
I have to admit, I came to the Mothman Festival for the first time with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I was fully prepared to come, laugh a little, and then have the story of it for years to come. It turned out that I had more fun than I had anticipated. The town was full of nice people having fun and bonding over the legend of this strange creature.