The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








The Exeter Bandstand at the town center will have UFO-themed T-shirts, mugs and hats. Courtesy photo.

Exeter UFO Festival

Where: The Exeter Town Hall, 10 Front St., Exeter
When: Saturday, Sept. 2, and Sunday, Sept. 3
Cost: Donations are encouraged
Saturday, Sept. 2
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Town Hall Speaker Series (for a schedule of speakers, visit
8 a.m. to 2 p.m.: UFO Festival Souvenir Shop at Town Hall open
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Food and refreshments for sale at the tent by the bandstand
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Kids’ activities at the Town Hall Common Park at the corner of Front and Court streets
10 a.m. 2 p.m.: Incident at Exeter trolley rides leave from Town Hall every half hour
7:30 to 9 p.m.: Meet the Speakers at the Hampton Inn & Suites on Portsmouth Avenue
Sunday, Sept. 3
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: UFO Festival Souvenir Shop at Town Hall open
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Town Hall Speaker Series continues

The Exeter Incident
UFO Festival returns to town of alleged sighting

By Ethan Hogan

 Fifty-two years ago, a mysterious light allegedly floating through the woods near Exeter was documented by two local police officers. The incident made the area legendary for folks who study the possibility that we are not alone in the universe.

The Exeter UFO Festival returns for its eighth year on Saturday, Sept. 2, and Sunday, Sept. 3. The Exeter area Kiwanis Club will be hosting talks from researchers and experts about the out-of-this-world phenomenon.
The Exeter incident is the catalyst for the festival, which draws “ufologists” from around the country, according to past Kiwanis President Bill Smith.
The alleged incident occurred on Sept. 3, 1965, when Norman Muscarello spotted a glowing elliptical orb hovering at eye level in the woods behind a barn in the neighboring town of Kensington. Muscarello alerted officers in Exeter, who returned to the site and saw the object themselves.
“It’s one of the better credible sightings because of the two police officers who are trained investigators and observers,” said Smith.
The orb moved quickly and sporadically for an hour, and one of the officers un-holstered his gun. Eventually, the orb left and the sighting became known by the UFO community the world over as “the Exeter Incident,” according to Smith. 
 “You have Roswell on the West and the Exeter Incident on the East,” said Smith.
The festival celebrates the Exeter incident with talks from UFO researchers from around the country and tours of the original site. The one-hour talks will take place at the Exeter Town Hall, and this year, a separate event on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Exeter Hampton Inn & Suites on Portsmouth Avenue will give people the chance to meet the speakers and learn about their work. 
Speakers at the event include Richard Dolan, a ufologist and television personality; Peter Robbins; an investigative UFO writer, and Kathleen Marden, a UFO researcher and lecturer.
On Saturday, an old-fashioned trolley will take attendees from the Exeter Town Hall to the site of the incident in Kensington every half hour between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Smith will be giving the guided informational tours so people can hear the story for themselves as they pass by the infamous woods.
Attendees of the trolley ride will get a map that will show the location of the original Exeter incident, as well as the locations of other notable sightings that occurred in the area. Smith said people can use the map to go on their own investigative adventures. 
On Saturday and Sunday a mock UFO crash site will be staged behind town hall where kids can make arts and crafts projects out of the debris. 
“What those kids can do with cardboard boxes and glue sticks — they are some creative kids,” said Smith.
The Kiwanis Club will have a hot dog and hamburger stand set up by the Exeter Band Stand at 10 Front St. on Saturday with UFO-themed hats, T-shirts and mugs. The UFO festival raises money for local children’s charities, children’s programs and community programs. 
Smith said northern New England is a favorable place for UFO sightings because it is far from any large cities that fill the sky with light. 
“If there’s anything else flying around, you’re more likely to see it than down in Boston,” said Smith. “Any rural area seems to have more sightings. A lot of people here in New England have seen things, you know, seen things in the sky.”
The festival draws people who are curious about the things they have seen or think they have seen, and the talks give them a chance to learn more about the community of people who research the topic, according to Smith.
Whether or not you believe in aliens, Smith said, you will learn something new.
“What I believe in is raising money for local charities,” he said.

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