The interest in extraterrestrials on Earth really gained momentum in 1962 after the Twilight Zone episode: To Serve Man.
After that aired, most people lived in fear that they would end up on an alien’s dinner plate. Then came ET and the world fell in love with extraterrestrials. Today, there are those who are sure that aliens walk among us, those who believe that those folks are crazy, and those who are intrigued by the idea.
On Saturday, believers and fans of life on galaxies beyond our own met in Exeter for the Fourth Annual Exeter UFO Festival.
Dean Merchant, the original organizer of this event, is a New Hampshire native with a keen interest in the facts and fiction surrounding the presence of extraterrestrials. Over the years, he has met and/or spoken with most of the key figures of UFOlogy. At the opening ceremony, he read a letter from Dr. Ray Fowler thanking the association for his Induction into the Exeter UFO Festival Hall of Fame. Fowler is a renowned author and UFO research scientist who wrote about being an abductee himself in his autobiographical book UFO Testament: Anatomy of an Abductee.
Next, MIT Chief Science Writer, Dr. Eugene Mallove, Cold Fusion expert, author, and lecturer was remembered. Murdered in 2004, he was the first to expose the truth behind cold fusion long before science journalists even knew the questions to ask that would challenge the prevailing views.
The first speaker, in a long list of distinguished experts, Stephen Mather-Lees spoke to a packed room in the Exeter Town Hall. After forty five minutes of pin-drop silence in a lecture entitled, Extraterrestrials: They Are Here Now, the audience erupted in applause that could be heard out on the street by aliens and residents alike.
Kathleen Marden (www.kathleen-marden.com), niece of Betty and Barney Hill – the well-known couple who were reportedly abducted in 1961 – not only lectured but also was available to answer questions. Marden is a wealth of knowledge on this subject having had a close relationship with the Hills.
Throughout the day, there were several lectures and presentations for the serious seekers of other-worldly knowledge, and games, and contests for the playful. No one was disappointed! But more than listening to passionate accounts and testimony, the hundreds of folks that came were there for fun, curiosity, and to either wear or stare at the whimsical costumes. There were contests for the best kid and pet alien costumes. Music was provided by Jeanne Sable. Food was supplied by the Kiwanis. The shops in downtown Exeter joined in the fun by offering out of this world merchandise.. The Trends Gift Gallery, is known for unique gifts. Owner Kathy Lesmerises remembered the mugs she chose for the first festival. “I found these cool mugs with a picture of a husband and wife in bed being probed by an alien but when you fill them with water, everyone disappears.”
Most people were in plain clothes but some came dressed to impress. There were wildly colored uniforms, sparkly antennae, and skin in shades of blue and green – each one’s own personal rendition of our “neighbors.”
The festival was filled with folks who believe we are not alone, folks who believe those believers are crazy, and those who are open to the possibility of sharing the universe. A woman who identified herself as Stargazer quoted one of her favorite characters, Spock from Star Trek “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”