POINT PLEASANT, W. Va. (METRO NEWS) -- The 15th Annual Mothman Festival in Mason County is again a family affair for the Wamsleys of Point Pleasant, the organizers of the September festival dedicated to the mysterious, winged creature first spotted 50 years ago.
In the time since then, Mothman has become synonymous with the hometown of Ashley Wamsley-Watts, marketing director for the Mothman Festival which will be held Saturday and Sunday in Point Pleasant.
“You just mention ‘Point Pleasant, W.Va.’ and they automatically say, ‘That’s where the Mothman’s from,'” Wamsley-Watts said of the notoriety of the Mothman, spotted in the areas of Point Pleasant, at a former ammo site known as the TNT area, and near Clendenin in Kanawha County between Nov. 12, 1966 and Dec. 1967.
In at least one case, Mothman was described as a “large, flying man with ten-foot wings” or a creature with “glowing red eyes.” A statue based on those descriptions stands in Point Pleasant today.
Wamsley-Watts’ father, Jeff Wamsley, wrote two Mothman books, “Behind the Red Eyes” and “Facts Behind the Legend.”
“Being that he is from Point Pleasant originally, he actually grew up right beside of the eyewitnesses. They lived on his street,” Wamsley-Watts said.
Jeff Wamsley serves as director of the Mothman Festival. Wamsley-Watts’ mother works in the Mothman Museum and Research Center, now marking its 10th anniversary. Helping in the museum also is Wamsley-Watts’ husband along with her two grandmothers.
In 1975, Jeff Keel first published the book “The Mothman Prophecies.” That book was the source material for the 2002 movie starring Richard Gere. Many of the props filmmakers used for “The Mothman Prophecies” are now housed in the Mothman Museum.
Reports of Mothman sightings slowed around the time of the Silver Bridge Collapse that claimed 46 lives in Dec. 1967, but Wamsley-Watts regularly hears about possible encounters with Mothman.
The most recent spotting came earlier this year in Rio Grande, Ohio — not far from Point Pleasant. “They think it was the Mothman, what they experienced,” Wamsley-Watts said of the report.
“We see strange lights and stuff in the sky, here in Point Pleasant, often. I actually live close to the TNT area where all this stuff happened and we just kind of get used to it, so we don’t really pay attention to it,” she said.
The Mothman Festival continues through Sunday.
On Saturday, cast members from Destination America’s “Mountain Monsters” will be on hand for a meet and greet event.
The Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS), including “Trapper” John Tice, Jeff Headlee and Willy McQuillian, investigate mysterious sightings of creatures and phenomena in the Appalachian Region, like Mothman.
Wamsley-Watts said the AIMS team would likely bring even more people to Point Pleasant. Some of them are coming from as far away as Norway, Ireland and New Zealand.
“We’re probably a core of five to six main people that put on an event for close to 10,000 people, so it’s pretty wild,” Wamsley-Watts told MetroNews.