POINT PLEASANT — It’s been a month since the 14th annual Mothman Festival descended on Point Pleasant, and now that the hoopla has settled, (and Bigfoot has left the area), all signs point to this year’s festival being a record year.
“Attendance records were shattered this year,” Jeff Wamsley, owner of the Mothman Museum, and a founder of the festival said. “Sunday’s crowds were much larger this year as well. We estimated 6,000-7,000 visited Point Pleasant over the weekend.”
Festival organizers typically see around 5,000 people at the event.
Wamsley added nearly every vendor at the festival this year has asked to return and most of the food vendors ran out of supplies and food by Sunday.
“Everyone was very pleased and some vendors broke all-time sales records this year,” Wamsley said.
Wamsley said returning festival favorites included the guest speakers at the State Theater, the bands at Riverfront Park and the TNT hayrides at the West Virginia State Farm Museum. Relatively new festival favorites included the zipline on Main Street, covered wagon rides and the Ghostbusters, who set up a 30-foot-tall marshmallow man in the middle of the crowd. Wamsley said there are plans for all of these activities to return next year.
From year to year, the festival seems to grow into a family event while maintaining a level of eccentricity which invites every sort of person to the area. Wamsley remarked on a couple who have traveled to the festival each year, with the exception of one. This couple is from Kittaning, Pa. where the “Mothman Prophecies” was filmed. Wamsley said there were people from several states, from cities as far away as Los Angeles and even from other countries, at this year’s festival.
With its organic mix of quirky family fun, as well as those who are devoted to investigating the paranormal, the festival can often be misunderstood.
“Obviously, everyone has an opinion when it comes to believing in the Mothman or not, and that is fine,” Wamsley said. “We have noticed many more local people attending. They are welcoming people to Point Pleasant as well and that’s what we like to see. People are going to come to Point Pleasant regardless if they believe or not. Elvis died in 1977 (or at least some say he did) but almost 40 years later, thousands of people visit Graceland. The legend continues to live on and people still have a huge interest in it. There’s really no difference in that and the Mothman legend here in Point Pleasant.”
What many people don’t seem to realize about the festival is that it’s totally free to attend with no admission fees to explore all things Mothman — and therefore all things Point Pleasant. The financial impact of all those people in such a small space meant businesses anywhere near the festival were benefiting, as were other historically meaningful sites in not only Point Pleasant but Mason County.
“We want to combine history, quirkiness and mystery to the festival so there are plenty of things to see and do, so it is not all entirely Mothman,” Wamsley said about continuing on with the event which has become its own phenomena. “I see it everyday in the museum, people are genuinely excited to come to Point Pleasant and explore everything there is to see. It’s an exciting time for our town, these people are planning trips to visit us now.”
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.