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Mothman Festival brings thousands of cryptid fans to West Virginia


Mothman Festival brings thousands of cryptid fans to West Virginia

Sep 19, 2023 | 5:57 am ET
By Leann Ray
Mothman Festival brings thousands of cryptid fans to West Virginia
A person in a Mothman costume is escorted around the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, W.Va. on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Leann Ray | West Virginia Watch)

West Virginia has a lot of great things going for it — it’s beautiful, there’s lots of outdoor activities, like mountain climbing, hiking and whitewater rafting. And it has a wealth of cryptids.

Growing up, I always went with my dad to the grocery store and the thing I remember most about those trips was standing in the checkout line and reading the tabloids. That’s how I kept up with Bat Boy.

Bat Boy, a creation of the Weekly World News in 1992, is a half-boy, half-bat with bat-like ears and fangs who lives in Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg. 

When my 7th grade class went on a three-day “West Virginia tour” field trip, one of our stops was Lost World Caverns. Did I ask about Bat Boy? You know I did.

Our tour guide made the mistake of telling 13-year-old Leann that he had been bitten by Bat Boy. 

I wanted to see that bite mark more than anything.

He said it was on his leg. I said pull up your pants leg. He said it was on his thigh. That wasn’t going to stop me from wanting to see that bite mark. He did not show me that bite mark.

Perhaps the state’s most beloved cryptid, the Mothman, was celebrated this past weekend in Point Pleasant with a festival in his honor.

The man, the moth, the legend was first spotted in the Point Pleasant area around Nov. 15, 1966. The following month, the Point Pleasant Register ran a story with the headline “Couples see man-size bird … creature … something.”

A Mothman sighting is tied to the Silver Bridge collapse where 46 people died on Dec. 15, 1967. Some believe he caused the collapse, while others believe Mothman appears before a tragedy as a warning to others.

I’m a believer of the latter.

Point Pleasant has gone all in on Mothman. There’s the Mothman Statue, the Mothman Museum and plenty of local stores where you can buy Mothman merchandise.

The museum has lots of newspaper clippings, which I appreciated, and memorabilia from “The Mothman Prophecies” movie.

There’s a Mothman Pizza from Village Pizza Inn. There’s Mothman ice cream at What’s the Scoop.

This past weekend’s festival had guest speakers, TNT bus tours, Mothman hayrides, food trucks, music, and many, many vendors who sold their crytpid goodies.

While this may seem silly to some people, it’s great for the town. People travel from out of state for this festival, and there are Mothman fans worldwide. By embracing Mothman, Point Pleasant has made itself a tourist destination. 

Point Pleasant has a population of a little over 4,000 people, but during the weekend of the Mothman Festival, event organizers estimated 15,000 people would visit the town.

Organizers warned visitors on the event’s Facebook page to bring cash because the “internet in the area, especially at a time as busy as the festival, could be wavering.” And wavering it was. I was able to make purchases with my card between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., but every vendor after that could no longer connect to the internet.

One vendor even told me there were some vendors who didn’t bring cash and only had card payment options, and they weren’t able to make sales when they couldn’t get online.

There are two ATMs near the festival, and they both always have long lines.

I don’t have great cell phone service in Point Pleasant on a normal day. Last year, on a trip the week before the festival, I tried to text my mom some photos of things I thought she might like while I was shopping, but the photos didn’t go through until we were already on the road back home.

According to the West Virginia Office of Broadband, only 41% of people in Mason County are served by broadband internet. That leaves 50% of people unserved and 9% are underserved.

As things go more digital, people without broadband internet get left behind. 

In June, Sen. Joe Manchin announced that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Laws Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program (BEAD) would give the state $1.2 billion of federal funding to ensure all West Virginians have access to affordable broadband internet.

Hopefully, that program will help Point Pleasant so that next year’s Mothman Festival will go smoother for vendors and attendees.

Until then, make sure to hide emergency cash from yourself in your wallet. It’s saved me more than once. 

Mothman Festival brings thousands of cryptid fans to West Virginia
Artist Mark May of Robotik Industries had dozens of found object sculptures for sale at the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, W.Va. on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. Pictured are some Flatwoods Monster and Mothman sculptures. (Leann Ray | West Virginia Watch)

Learn more about other West Virginia cryptids: