I attended the first ever UFO festival in Exeter NH on Sept.5, 2009. I have to say my impression is that the good old Yankees of the Granite State really don't get into the whole UFO/alien thing as well as the citizens of the West. No real Roswell style over the top costumes or booths selling quart rocks to help communicate with our space brethren. Just simply a simple display by the NEUFON (New England UFO network), the Kiwanis selling lunch, a tv table with a few newspaper clipping from the Historic Society, and t-shirts. The t-shirts were selling well. Inside Exeter town hall about 100-150 people calmly listened to talks by various UFO authors (with books for sale). The main draw seemed to be the niece of Betty and Barney Hill. We all remember Betty and Barney Hill as the couple that was abducted by aliens, and "recovered" their memory of it via hypnosis. The doctor that treated the Hills always emphasized that he did not believe they had been abducted, but that they certainly did believe.
Betty and Barney Hill's niece seemed to remember a lot in detail (I can't imagine she was very old at the time), and when she began speaking about how Barney's scuffed shoes (complete with facsimile slide) ("he could only wear them for yard work after that night") and Betty's dress suffering fading and polyester breakdown ("she hung it on the line and the mysterious powder on it blew away") proved they had been abducted by aliens, I decid ed to check out the other scheduled activities.
Problem was, they were hard to find. Most of the town didn't seem aware there was a UFO festival going on. I managed to find Founders Park, where children had been building UFOs with "recycled materials" (trash). There was one big UFO and one small one. There was also a librarian who seemed to be reading a book to an audience of one. Still, the costume contest and UFO parade downtown was scheduled next. I never did figure out if there was a costume contest. My own alien hat was about as costumy as it got except for a few kids with face paint. I was talked into participating in the "parade" which consisted of 3 children and about the same number of adults. We walked along downtown while people seemed more confused than amused to see us.
While walking I was interviewed by a reporter, where I tried to inject a little skepticism into the mix. I pointed out that New Hampshire has a long UFO history.
Indeed, New Hampshire is where "aliens went bad". The article doesn't include my comment that the event was not only "silly" but "lame". The article was a definite "puff" bit of journalism. Still, I was happy that I was able to inject even a hint of skepticism into the published account.
I handed out a lot of business cards to my site "badalien.org" and I met a lot of people that believe in UFOs simply because it happened HERE. It didn't happen HERE, and New Hampshire has a lot of claims to fame other than UFOs and alien abductions. As a skeptic I think it's important to attend events like this one, and to read the web sites and even the occasional book from the library about UFOs. It keeps you on your skeptic toes, let's you know the arguments that will be thrown at you, and gives you an insight into the mind of the believers and those that don't really believe but enjoy being identified as a UFO martyr and book writer/money maker.