Opinion & Editorial

McMenamins UFO Festival: Feeding my need for all things extraterrestrial

If you’re being abducted, might as well enjoy a beer. PHOTO PROVIDED/LYNDSEY HEWITT

Thanks to my initials and to Steven Spielberg, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to ”phone home” in my 27 years on this planet.
I call my mother nearly everyday, but kudos for that clever reminder, guys.
I didn’t phone home last Saturday, however, as I was busy experiencing the extraterrestrial glory that is McMenamins UFO Festival in McMinnville. I texted Ma my plans, and she said, ”Oh, that’s right up your alley, Erin.”
She ain’t kidding, and she would know. My mom’s probably spent a small fortune indulging me and my interests in paranormal phenomena growing up – stacks of books on mysterious places, local folklore and curious accounts of the supernatural. My parents walk by my ”I Want to Believe” X-Files poster every day, still hung up in my old bedroom back in Pennsylvania.
Nazca lines? Tell. Me. Everything.
Bermuda Triangle? Bring it on, good sir.
Tiny Atacama aliens? Skeptical, but hey, I’ll bite.
I’d also be lying if I said that Sasquatch didn’t slightly factor into my decision to move to the Pacific Northwest. You can refer to my ”Squatch Out!” air freshener hanging off my rearview mirror for confirmation.
So when my dear friend and former journalism colleague from The Keystone State (who’s now the media coordinator for The Columbian in Washington – small world) told me about this event coming up, I may have shrieked wildly with elation.
I’ve seen the photos, man.
Evelyn and Paul Trent snapped photos on their McMinnville farm on May 11, 1950 – photos that are largely considered the first photos of unidentified flying objects (UFO) in the United States. To this day, they are some of the most credible UFO photos ever taken. McMenamins UFO Festival began in 1999 as a way to honor that sighting, and has since evolved into an epic celebration of all things extraterrestrial.
Epic indeed.
Never have I seen such a gathering that allows your freak flag to fly so high with such acceptance and enjoyment – aside from perhaps Oregon County Fair’s crowd, but their flags were more…er… nude… and glittery.
Costumes were outrageous, morale was high and smiles were abundant. Downtown McMinnville bustled with paranormal seekers and aspiring ufologists, and kids ran around like adorable little loons on overload from all the visuals. Whether a true believer, a fan of the silliness of it all or just wanted to get a large blow-up plastic alien, McMinnville was the place to get ”out of this world,” if only for an afternoon.
What a wonderful, weird Oregon gem this festival is.
That said, this festival has me dying to hear some paranormal phenomena stories from the local perspective. I want to hear about that story your grandpa told you about seeing Sasquatch that one time in Saginaw in 1958. I want to hear about that cigar-shaped unidentified flying object you saw that one night over Cottage Grove when you were a kid, or about that ghost in your old farmhouse kitchen that leaves the cabinet drawers all open when the moon is full. I know y’all have got stories of the mystical and mysterious; some of you have already shared some with me in passing. Humor me; feel free to shoot me an email or stop by The Chronicle office and share your local supernatural stories.
The truth is out there, Creswell. Tell me all about it.



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