It has been 53 years since the “Incident in Exeter,” when a reputed UFO was spotting flying over the nearby community of Kensington.
But it wasn’t the only account of otherworldly events in the area. Four years earlier, in 1961, Betty and Barney Hill of Portsmouth famously said they were abducted by aliens in the White Mountains.
In honor of those otherworldly reports, the Exeter UFO Festival once again will touch down in a weekend of extraterrestrial fare. To take place Saturday and Sunday in and around the Town Hall and in the park at the corner of Front and Court streets, the festival is billed as an event for believers and skeptics alike.
Among the speakers scheduled to make an appearance is Kathy Marden, the niece of the Hills. This is the first time that she’s presented a program about her aunt and uncle at the annual festival, which is a fundraiser for children’s charities through the Exeter Area Kiwanis Club.
“The crowd last year requested that she present on this topic as she has never done so at the Exeter UFO festival,” said Brian Wahl, speaking on behalf of the Kiwanis Club.
The event logo, which event organizers said was crafted by ECM Design in Exeter, features a trio of extraterrestrial crafts hovering over the town, with the days until the festival arrives stamped into the sky like a brewing thunderstorm.
“The feedback on this year’s graphic has been overwhelmingly positive,” said ECM Design’s Beth Dupell, who teasingly added, “The event posters around town are getting snagged. That’s always a good sign.”
Activities for all ages are planned, from a UFO Crash Debris Site and face painting for little humans to a lecture series with titles that hint of alien encounters.
Saturday’s slate of talks includes: “Commonalities, Synchronicities and Modern Day Contact” (Seacoast Saucers); “UFOs, Aliens and Disney — Alien Encounters from New Tomorrowland” (Bob Terrio); “The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Story and its Far-reaching Impact” (Kathleen Marden); “Exoplanets and Alien Life” (Marc Dantonio); “Aliens and Exorcism: Why do UFOs Turn Up in ‘Possession’ Cases?” (Paul and Ben Eno).
Sunday’s lecture will include: “People Not Proof” (Granite Sky’s Mike Stevens); “Gobekli Tepe” (Jennifer Stein); “Controversial Deaths of UFO Investigators, Journalists and Authors: Foul Play, Misinterpretation or Random Chance?” (Peter Robbins); and “Parasitic Lifeforms” (Shane Sirois).
Marden is scheduled to share her family’s story from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday. According to her bio, the New Hampshire native has lectured nationally and internationally, and her testimony has been heard on the History, Discovery, National Geographic and Destination America” channels.
She is national director of “experiencer research” for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFRON). With Stanton T. Friedman she penned the books “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience,” “Science was Wrong” and “Fact, Fiction and Flying Saucers,” and with Denise Stoner she wrote “The Alien Abduction Files.”
Marden is one of three authors of the new book “Beyond UFOs: The Science of Contact with Non-Human Intelligence” by the Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences (FREE).
For those who want to explore the “Incident at Exeter” a bit more closely, the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring trolley service every half hour from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday from the park to the Kensington site where aliens were reported to have touched down in 1965.
Back at the park, there will be a costume contest for children 12 and younger and another dubbed Alien Pets.
Children’s events are free of charge; there are fees associated with other features at the festival, including the lecture series ($20 for both days of talks), the trolley rides ($3-$5), food and the UFO swag. For more information, visit exeterufofestival.org.