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The Mothman Festival: Point Pleasant’s celebration of the urban legend

In the late fall of 1966, two young couples, The Scarberrys and the Mallettes, were driving along backcountry roads outside the small town of Point Pleasant, WV. Suddenly, a tall creature with glowing red eyes and batlike wings appeared on the roadside and began to pursue them, first on foot before taking off into the sky, gliding through the air and pursuing them at high speed. This became the first of many local sightings of what would become known as the “Mothman.”

However, in the nearly 60 years since the initial incident, the town of Point Pleasant has not forgotten its local lore but has wholeheartedly embraced it, putting in a museum and a tall metal statue of the monster in their downtown area. But, best of all, they hold the annual Mothman festival, held every third weekend of September. 

“I love the festival, it’s grown so much every year,” local resident Roz Ransom said.

She then explained that the festival also proved to be a great financial weekend for the town, bringing in tons of money for both small businesses and the city itself. Furthermore, it made Point Pleasant a much bigger name amongst small towns across the nation, with Ransom stating that the festival “showed our town to the rest of the world.”

The festival actually brought so much attention and commerce to Point Pleasant that it “kind of saved [the] town,” at least according to local resident Brittany Sayre. She explained that when the Silver Bridge into the city collapsed in 1967, it was rebuilt in a different place, rerouting traffic away from the town. 

As a result, businesses began to suffer. But, when the festival started up over 20 years ago, more people began to trickle in. Now, the festival draws anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 people every year, and it’s only growing. 

Each year, vendors take over the main street, spanning two city blocks and expanding up to the Riverfront Park, where there are even more vendors and live music played at an outdoor amphitheater. 

On top of this, the town also offers guided tours of the TNT area and bunkers where the creature was first sighted in 1966. Furthermore, the town also has a museum dedicated to the creature, charging five dollars per person. 

But perhaps the best thing at the festival is the iconic Mothman statue, a 12-foot tall metal figure atop a pedestal in downtown Point Pleasant. While the legend might have first started nearly 60 years ago, the town of Point Pleasant has kept it alive, turned it into a source of celebration and commerce and has shown no signs of stopping.


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