'The good, the bad and the kooky'
By STARLA POINTER
Of the News-Register
From Bigfoot to a full-size gorilla to aliens in gray, green and rainbow hues, all creatures great and small turned out Friday for the start of McMinnville's 13th annual UFO Festival.
Children clutched inflatable spacemen and danced to alien-themed songs by Belinda Underwood. Art lovers used Cowls Street as a canvas.
People of all ages watched dancers and roller derby skaters; listened to proponents of decriminalizing marijuana seek petition-signers; watched Alien Video Contest finalists air their wares at 3rd Street Pizza.
They indulged in out-of-this world snacks like Alien Ears, green-frosted cupcakes, "Apopalypse POW" popcorn and hot-dogs and hamburgers named for Star Trek's William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
"I love it, said Lee Hinton, a local comedian and musician who brought his two children, 2-year-old Nadia and 1-year-old Lee Anthony Jr. "It's a family-oriented event," he said, noting he planned to return today to perform "bucket music" at Third and Davis. "This brings out the good, the bad and the kooky."
Back in 1950, a local family photographed a flying saucer skimming over farm fields between McMinnville and Sheridan. Never explained, the Trent photo still attracts international attention.
On the 50th anniversary of the photo, McMinnville began honoring its tie to UFOs. McMenamins Hotel Oregon hosted the first scholarly ufology conference that year, and the McMinnville Downtown Association joined in with a parade.
The UFO Festival soon became an annual event. It attracts both serious ufologists and fun-lovers from all over the Northwest, plus points well beyond.
Activities, including the wildly popular alien costume parade, continue today throughout the downtown area. Here are some highlights:
n Alien Costume Parade Floats, cars and walkers will parade west on Third Street from Irvine to Cowls, then return east on Fourth Street, starting at 2 p.m.
n Vendor booths. They will be open on Davis Street between Third and Fourth streets.
n Talk by UFO abduction researcher Yvonne R. Smith. It's set for 10 a.m. in the community center at a cost of $10.
n The Willamette Radio Workshop. A performance is set for 3 p.m. Saturday in Mattie's Room, on the second floor at McMenamins.
n Alien Pet Costume Contest. Pets will gather on the lawn at Second and Cowls streets, resplendent in their alien finery, at 3:30 p.m.
n Talk by Tom Reed, who bills himself as a multi-generational alien abductee. It's set for 5 p.m. in the community center at a cost of $10.
n Alien Video Contest. Entries will be available for viewing from noon to 6 p.m., with an awards ceremony to follow at 7, all at 3rd St. Pizza.
n Kirby Swatosh & The Moon Rock Patrol. Performance is set for 7 p.m. in Hotel Oregon's Cellar Bar.
n Alien Costume Ball. Costumed dancing to Mama Gayle & Her Sugar Daddies is scheduled to run 8 to 11 p.m. in the hotel's Mattie's Room.
n Vivid Curve. Band is set to perform from 8 to 11 p.m. in the hotel's Paragon Room.