Mothman Festival Welcomes Thousands to Point Pleasant


John Cole Glover

Mothman Festival takes place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

“Couples See Man-Sized Bird…Creature…Something,” was the first headline that launched Point Pleasant, West Virginia to national attention. Now the town celebrates the mysterious creature referred to as Mothman during one weekend in September.

Mothman was a supposed winged beast that terrorized the Point Pleasant area in the 1960s. The majority of sightings stopped after the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, killing 46 people.

The collapse of the Silver Bridge was the deadliest bridge disaster in United States history. Now the Mothman festival occurs just feet away from where the bridge once stood, linking two pieces of history together in the small West Virginian town.

The mystery began in 1966, and still continues to this day, with no valid explanation as to what the people saw in the infamous TNT area just north of Point Pleasant.

The story starts with two couples in the TNT area of Point Pleasant in 1966. The TNT, named after the explosive ordnance plant located within the area that operated during World War Two, would later be known as the lair of the mysterious creature.

TNT was frequented by young lovers and drag racers during nighttime due to the rural location. It was during one such night when four people experienced something they could never have imagined.

While sitting in their car within the TNT area, they encountered what they described as a flying man with huge red eyes. The creature was then said to have followed them back to Point Pleasant, going at speeds of over 100 MPH.

Several hundreds of sightings have been reported since then, in all parts of the world. But regardless of where sightings may occur, Point Pleasant will always be considered the home of Mothman.

Point Pleasant celebrates the weird and wonderful history of the Mothman saga on Main Street with an array of food vendors, merchandise tents, and tours.

“This is my first time here,” said Mark Hayes, a Huntington resident. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Hayes said he will definitely return in the future, and has been sharing pictures on Facebook already showing his friends what the festival has to offer.

“People here are friendly, they are very welcoming” Hayes said.

He also said he was glad that the festival is on a different weekend than Huntington’s Chili Fest.

Perhaps the busiest area of the festival was the food scene. Several food vendors had tents or trailers set up, just like a county fair, and were selling everything from hotdogs to funnel cakes, ice cream to Sarsaparilla.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs of Lesage, West Virginia had a tent near the riverfront park. Customers lined up to try their newest hot dog made in honor of the creature, called the Mothman Dog.

The most popular attraction was the large metal statue of Mothman, which is around 12 feet tall. Tourists gathered around it taking photographs, and some even climbed into the arms of the metallic beast for the ultimate social media picture.

Perhaps the most noticeable spectacle was the 30 foot tall inflatable Marshmallow Man, as seen in the Ghostbusters franchise, which stood on Main Street near the historic Lowe Hotel.

Todd Wines, a member of the Ghostbusters West Virginia Division, the group responsible for the giant inflatable Marshmallow Man said that this was the first time they have visited as a group.

“We will definitely be back,” Wines said.

“The best part is meeting all the people and raising money for charity.””

— Todd Wines

Wines also said that they were there for charity, raising money for the American Heart Association and Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

“The best part is meeting all the people and raising money for charity,” Wines said.

The members, who were all wearing similar Ghostbuster uniforms with personalized nametags, were passing out business cards with their logo and a list of events they will appear at.

The group likely had the greatest visual presence, but there were several groups and tents worth visiting.

Neal James, the Turtleman’s right hand man, made an appearance at this year’s festival, as well as several relatively famous monster and ghost hunters.

Point Pleasant has turned into a Mecca of the strange; a meeting place of people wishing to experience the phenomenon for themselves, or at least see the area where the story began.

License plates from as far away as Missouri and Texas were a common sight, as well as hearses and several classic motorcycles from people making their pilgrimage to the small river town in their own unique way.

Costumes were a common sight, with people dressed as everything from Mothman to The Avengers. The festival has turned into not only a celebration of Mothman and the town’s strange history, but an outlet for self-expression and individualism.


John Cole Glover can be contacted at [email protected]