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A 22-inch track found after a sighting by the Crypto Crew. Courtesy photo.




 Exeter UFO Festival

Curious skeptics and dedicated ufologists will gather at the ninth annual Exeter UFO Festival on Saturday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 2, at or around the Exeter Town Hall (10 Front St., Exeter). A $20 entry fee covers both days. 
There will be cash-only trolley rides to the UFO site, which will cost $5 for adults and $3 for children. The ride will include a retelling of what happened at the site over 50 years ago.
Attendees can also attend lectures from local and national speakers on a variety of extraterrestrial topics. Brian Wahl, vice president of Exeter Area Kiwanis Club, highlighted a special lecture on Disney’s impact on the public perception of alien encounters. He added that the club is also selling limited tickets to a “meet the speakers” event on Saturday night. 
Kathleen Marden, director of experiencer research for the Mutual UFO Network and Betty Hill’s niece, will present a special lecture called “The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Story and Its Far-Reaching Impact.” This is the first time Marden will present a lecture at the Exeter UFO Festival on the Hill story, which she was able to witness firsthand from the moment Betty called her mother to describe what she’d experienced.
Outside the town hall in downtown Exeter will be vendors and activities for all ages. Kids activities will include face painting an a chance to make UFOs and aliens out of recycled materials. There will also be alien-themed costume contests for both kids and pets.
Among the vendors at the festival will be Mitchell Comics from Tilton. Husband-wife team Michael and Michelle Mitchell create retro action, adventure and educational comics for all ages, including a comic about the Incident at Exeter.
“We’ve always loved B-movies and anything off the beaten path, and we think these kinds of stories are interesting ” said Michael Mitchell. “We put a lot of effort into researching each story, and all the drawing, lettering and coloring are done by hand.”
Visit exeterufofestival.org. 
Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 1
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. - UFO Festival Souvenir Shop
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Snack Shack tent open
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Kids activities
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. - “Incident at Exeter” trolley
Noon to 12:30 p.m. - Alien costume contest, alien pet contest and alien parade to the bandstand
 
Speakers
8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. - Seacoast Saucers, “Commonalities, Synchronicities and Modern Day Contact”
10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. - Bob Terrio, “UFOs, Aliens and Disney - Alien Encounters From New Tomorrowland”
11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. - Kathleen Marden, “The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Story and Its Far-Reaching Impact”
12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Lunch Break
1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. - Marc Dantonio, “Exoplanets and Alien Life”
3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. - Paul & Ben Eno, “Aliens and Exorcism: Why Do UFOs Turn Up in ‘Possession’ Cases?”
7:30 p.m. to  - 9 p.m. - Meet the Speakers event at Hampton Inn & Suites (59 Portsmouth Ave., Exeter); Limited to 55 people, no advance sales. 
 
Sunday, Sept. 2
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Snack Shack tent open   
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Kids activities 
 
Speakers
9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. - Granite Sky/Mike Stevens, “People Not Proof”
10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. - Jennifer Stein, “Gobekli Tepe”
Noon to 1 p.m. - Live Radio Broadcast with Paul and Ben Eno
1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. - Peter Robbins, “Controversial Deaths of UFO Investigators, Journalists and Authors: Foul Play, Misinterpretation, or Random Chance?”
2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. - Shane Sirois, “Parasitic Lifeforms”
 
Upstairs, Downtown Walking Tour 
Creep through Concord on Thursday, Oct. 4, during the Upstairs, Downtown Walking Tour, which will take attendees to six haunted hotspots around the city. This includes the former location of Siam Orchid Thai Restaurant, where there were sightings of randomly moving drinking glasses and mysterious voices after hours.
Jennifer Kretovic, volunteer for InTown Concord’s Economic Vitality Committee, said tickets cost $40 and will go on sale by Saturday, Sept. 1. She said the tour only has 150 spots and anticipated tickets would sell out quickly. Visit facebook.com/IntownConcord for information on how to buy tickets.




Supernatural New Hampshire
Strange tales from the shadows and skies of the Granite State

08/30/18



 By Scott Murphy

smurphy@hippopress.com 
 
Granite Staters have reported strange sightings and experiences since the colonial days, including the first nationally recognized alien abduction and a unique Bigfoot-like species. Here are some of the state’s noteworthy supernatural events — you can decide for yourself whether they’re fact or folklore.
 
Soaring saucers
The public’s fascination with alien abduction started on Sept. 19, 1961, when a Portsmouth couple named Barney and Betty Hill were allegedly taken aboard an alien spacecraft while driving home from a vacation in Canada. 
According to the New Hampshire Historical Society, the couple noticed a strange light in the sky as they drove down Route 3 through the White Mountains and realized a disc-shaped object was pursuing their car. They eventually awoke on a dirt road some time later and realized they had no recollection of what had happened during the past two hours. 
Three years later, while under hypnosis, the couple allegedly discovered what they saw. They recalled being led to an alien spacecraft by short, hairless aliens with gray skin, large egg-shaped heads, almond-shaped eyes, small pug noses and holes where their ears should have been. The aliens subjected them to examinations and tests before returning them to their car. 
The couple never intended to share their experience. But recordings of their meeting with a UFO research group were leaked to the “Boston Traveler” newspaper, which published several stories on their experience. While UFOs were an accepted part of popular culture at the time, the incident was the first officially reported instance of alien abduction in the U.S.
“I talked with Betty many years ago at UNH. She firmly believes that it happened,” said James Milliken, chair of the Concord Historical Society. 
He said her notes and files about the incident are in the archives at UNH.
Perhaps the best-known New Hampshire sighting happened in Exeter on Sept. 3, 1965. Now known as the “Incident at Exeter,” it actually took place in the neighboring town of Kensington. According to the Exeter Historical Society, a teenager named Norman Muscarello claimed to have been chased by a large, flying object flashing bright red lights. Muscarello led police officer David Hunt back to the scene, where Hunt was startled to see the same object the teen had described. Area residents came forward to report similar sightings after the news was reported in the local newspaper. 
Now, the annual Exeter UFO Festival celebrates the sighting. (For details on the event, happening this weekend, see box.)
Matthew Thomas, president of the Fremont Historical Society, said the event was particularly significant due to not only multiple eyewitnesses, but also the fact that one of them was a police officer. He added that these sightings were common in the area at the time and even became a nocturnal pastime in Fremont. 
“People would line Route 17 in their PJs and hope to see a UFO over the power lines,” said Thomas. “There would be upwards of 200 people on some nights.”
These sightings might be dated, but they’re hardly the last UFO sightings in the Granite State. As of press time, the National UFO Reporting Center has received 871 sighting reports from New Hampshire, with some as recent as August of this year. The objects reported come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and some witnesses even claim to have been abducted as well. 
UFO researchers like Charles Creteau welcome skepticism of these kinds of sightings, but also encourage people to keep an open mind. Creteau is a licensed social worker and co-founder of Seacoast Saucers of New England in Rollinsford, which provides support services for individuals and families in the region who have had abduction and encounter experiences. He said it’s important to support people who claim to have experienced these kinds of potentially traumatic events. 
“When we do lectures, we see a lot of hands when we ask how many people who’ve seen UFOs and significantly fewer when we ask who reported their experience,” said Creteau. “A lot of people who have experience don’t know where to go or don’t even feel comfortable talking to their loved ones about it because of social stigma.”
 
Granite ghosts
If you work in an old mill building or live in a colonial home, there may be a ghost story to go along with it. Granite Staters have reported haunted happenings ever since the “Stone-Throwing Devil of New Castle” terrorized an ale house on the Seacoast. 
According to the New England Historical Society, an evil entity terrorized a Quaker tavern owner named George Walton by throwing hundreds of stones at his home over the course of the summer in 1682, some of which weighed 30 pounds. Walton also reported that household objects would go flying across his home. Additionally, he reported that the devil “whistled, snorted and clattered like colts’ feet.”
Michael Girard, a supernatural researcher and lecturer who runs Strange New England, said the tale is one of the most profound supernatural stories in New Hampshire’s history, as it was widely believed and documented by people around town. This included written records from Richard Chamberlayne, secretary to the royal governor of New Hampshire, and Cotton Mather, one of the most powerful ministers of his day.
“I think it’s important to remember these great historical moments, because in the eyes of these people, this was completely real and terrifying,” said Girard. “They were going from civilization into the wilderness, and this was a frightening experience for them in the New World.” 
Hauntings have persisted in New Hampshire history and folklore over the last several centuries. Intown Concord is offering a glimpse into some of these legends with its annual Upstairs, Downtown Walking Tour on Thursday, Oct. 4 (see box). 
In Manchester, several local legends are captured in the book Manchester Haunts by Renee Mallett. Some of her findings include stories of a ghost that calms patients at Elliot Hospital,  child laborers that still haunt the R. G. Sullivan Cigar Building and a deceased jogger that runs down River Road every Halloween night.
“For me, I love the history behind a lot of the stories once you start tracing them back long enough,” said Mallett. “A lot of times history is about the stories of rich people and famous politicians. With ghost stories, you often find that they’re linked to the lives of everyday people like mill workers, women and children or poor people.”
Mallett said haunted tours are often a better way to explore haunted sites than independent sleuthing. When she does research for her books, she said, she always has permission to visit haunted areas and ensures there’s actual recorded claims that these places are haunted. 
As an example, Mallett cited the famous story of Oceanborn Mary. She was a New Hampshire woman born at sea who “saved” the ship, as pirates who boarded the vessel decided to spare the passengers after seeing a newborn baby was aboard. While local legend claims that she haunts a house in Henniker, Mallett said there’s no record she lived there. Still, recent residents of the house have had to deal with people stopping by the house to take pictures and, in some cases, souvenirs. 
“Real estate agents are legally obligated to tell you if your house is haunted, because there are some nuisances related to that,” said Mallet. “People will show up and try to take a brick or shingle home, especially in the month of October.”
Ghost hunting and haunted attractions don’t have to be relegated to October and Halloween. T.J. Swick, founder of SilentWhispers Paranormal Society in Bedford, offers free paranormal investigations. Her group has published photos, videos and sound recordings of their findings on their website, including paranormal sightings at an 1800s farmhouse in Hillsborough, an anonymous hotel in Manchester and Gilson Cemetery in Nashua. 
Swick said some of these expeditions have involved casting out evil spirits by burning sage and incense and saying prayers. But in many cases, she said, spirits are neutral or benevolent. 
“A lot of these paranormal shows  home in only on the evil, but just like in real life, there’s a balance of good and evil spirits,” said Swick. “We are energy, and when we die, that energy can’t be destroyed. Sometimes the experiences people have might be loved ones who have passed and want to communicate with them.”
That might explain why some believe that John Parker still “lives” at the Goffstown Historical Society building decades after his death. Jennifer Brown, president of the organization, said the building at 18 Parker Station Road used to be home to the Parker family’s general store in the 1800s up until the mid 1960s. 
Though Parker died well before the building was converted into a historical building, people still claim to see someone living upstairs. A neighbor was once so sure she she saw someone upstairs that she called the police to report a trespasser. 
“He never bothers anyone, and I’m sure he likes it there,” said Brown. “It’s pretty quiet most of the time. Nobody lives there, and we’re only open two hours a week.”
Through her research, Mallett agreed that most people have said that living in a haunted house or working in a haunted building isn’t a terrifying or horrible experience. “I’ve heard a lot more stories about ghosts that steal people’s glasses or stop them from falling off a ladder than of ghosts who chase people around their house,” she said.
 
Creepy cryptids
According to the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Land, New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the U.S. with about 4.8 million acres. Some people think that’s more than enough trees to hide some strange, unknown creatures. 
“There are forests right here in New Hampshire that a person has never walked through,” said Jason Morse of Newmarket. “The chances of something being out there most people haven’t seen are quite remarkable.”
Morse belongs to a group called the Crypto Crew, which he joined after three encounters in 2008 with the same bigfoot he nicknamed “Goliath.” The first time he saw it, Morse said, Goliath was standing out in the woods while he was on a walk with his dog. The creature was over nine feet tall and completely covered with auburn-brown hair. It had massive, broad shoulders and arms that hung down just barely above its knees. 
Morse said he knows he saw the same bigfoot during the next two encounters, because Goliath had a lighter spot of fur on its upper chest. After seeing Goliath a second time at the dumpster near where he lived, Morse said, he came nearly face to face with the creature outside his house. He was about 40 feet away from Morse and smelled like a mixture of rotten eggs, wet dog and skunk. 
“We stared at each other for what seemed to be hours, but it was probably only minutes,” said Morse. “I said ‘Hello’ in a normal voice, and it cocked its head off to the side slightly and turned and walked away.”
Morse hasn’t seen Goliath since, but he’s taken accounts from all across New Hampshire which are listed on the Crypto Crew’s website. There have been similar sightings reported in every state except Hawaii according to Aleksandar Petakov, a documentary filmmaker and cryptozoology researcher based in Nashua. He highlighted the Bigfoot Field Research Organization as another group researching and documenting potential evidence of bigfoot.
Petakov worked with Mitchell Comics in Tilton on a comic called “Granite State Bigfoot,” which recounts some famous sightings of the hairy monster from the 1970s. One story in “Granite State Bigfoot” tells the tale of campers in Hollis reporting a tall, hairy creature between seven and eight feet tall. During another sighting in the Ossipee area, a couple was climbing a mountain with their dog when they described seeing a similar creature building a house-like structure. The creature eventually spotted them and let out a terrible noise, causing the group to flee down the mountain.
Unique to New Hampshire are the “wood devils” of Coos County. Primarily seen in the 1930s, Girard of Strange New England said they’re described similarly to bigfoot, except skinnier and with greyish hair. They reportedly use their thin stature to hide behind trees if they’re spotted. 
Girard recalled one story printed in an old North Country newspaper, where hikers were confronted by a wood devil near a pond in Dummer. The creature had a horrible odor and let out an awful scream before running off into the woods.
Both Girard and Petakov have heard that wood devils were created as an old lumberjack tale meant to scare new recruits while sitting around a fire. Petakov pointed out that several states have their own bigfoot variants, such as the skunk ape in Florida, sasquatch in Canada and grass man in Ohio. Yet, even if these creatures are just urban legends, Petakov said, the pursuit itself is fun and worthwhile. 
“We live in a society where most mysteries are gone, so the idea that there’s still something unknown out there is intriguing for people,” said Petakov. “What’s the fun of living in a world where everything is documented and there’s nothing left to discover?” 
 
Cryptid sightings map
Beyond bigfoot and wood devil sightings, there have been several other creature encounters reported from across the state. Below are some notable tales from the Monadnock Region, southern New Hampshire and the Upper Valley. 
1. Danville Devil Monkey: Despite being a ways away from the jungle, hikers along the Appalachian Trail have reported sightings of “devil monkeys” since the 1920s. “They’re said to have a nasty temper and kill pets and livestock,” said Girard. The most recent sighting happened in Sept. 2001 away from the mountains near Pleasant Street and Kingston Road in Danville. The town’s fire chief and 11 other people claimed to have seen an 8-foot-tall monkey with dark, woolly fur jumping about and hollering in the road before running away. Search parties couldn’t find the beast after this initial sighting.
2. Derry Trolls: Native American myths tell of troll-like creatures living around Beaver Lake in Derry. “In this time of Harry Potter, his description made me think of Dobby,” Renee Mallett said. Sightings were relatively common in the 1600s and 1700s but started to peter out as time went on. The last known sighting was reported in Dec. 1956. According to Mallet, a man was chopping down trees in the area when he claimed to see a small, wrinkly-skinned creature with two long ears drooping past his face. The man tried to catch the creature, but it ran away.
3 & 4. The Glowing Thing of Moore Lake: According to Girard of Strange New England, the Connecticut River has spawned countless tales and sightings of serpents and other monsters. Near the top of the river is the man-made Moore Reservoir, which lies in Dalton (3) and Littleton (4) as well as Concord and Waterford, Vt. In the late 1960s, a group of people were fishing on the lake late at night when they noticed a strange red glow out in the water. “Eventually, it became silent throughout whole woods, and all they could hear was the hurtling sound of their reels being cast out into the water,” said Girard. The fishermen quickly made their way back to shore as the red glow started moving closer to their boats. When the group returned with police, they saw dead fish all along the shoreline with nothing left but their heads and spines. 
5 & 6. Monadnock Lake Monsters: Nessie and Champ aren’t the only monsters lurking in the depths of lakes. In his book America’s Loch Ness Monsters, Philip Rife includes two tales from lakes in the Monadnock Region, both from the 1980s. One diver went missing in Dublin Lake (5) while searching for underwater caverns. According to Girard of Strange New England, the diver was found unconscious on the shore days later, and when he was revived, he said he encountered a strange, eel-like monster. Around the same time, a diver exploring Spofford Lake in Chesterfield (6) reported seeing a 20-foot-long, eel-like monster while underwater. 





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