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In my never-ending quest for out-of-this-world entertainment, I am always on the lookout for a good place to land, scouring the countryside in search of the unusual. Still a bit sullen over having missed last year’s Pine Bush UFO extravaganza, I was determined to take it all in last weekend, only to discover that some changes had been made in my absence. For years, this event has been a favorite of mine, and that hasn’t changed, but…
As recently as 2017, the celebration of all things flying saucer was known as the “Pine Bush UFO Festival and Parade,” which made sense. By definition, a festival is “an organized set of special events happening in one place, or on a special day, [often] commemorating something unique with its own set of social activities, food, ceremonies and parades” (www.vocabulary.com). Spawned by reported “unusual sightings” in the mid-1980s, Pine Bush, NY developed a reputation as the “UFO capital of the world,” supported by Ellen Crystal’s book “Silent Invasion,” and the town has held its annual festival since 2011.
Checking online for a schedule of the day’s events, I discovered more than one Facebook page and a website
(www.pinebushufofair.com), all of which contradicted each other. One social media page still refers to the [now defunct] festival and parade, while the other claims it’s a “fair,” which is defined as a “travelling show with games, rides, and [sometimes] prized pigs, similar to a carnival” (www.wikipedia.com). When I stopped one of the organizers to inquire as to the whereabouts of the highly anticipated parade, I was momentarily crestfallen at her response. “We had to change it up last year because of the growing number of vendors wanting to participate,” she said. “But we’ve replaced it with the ‘Alien Stroll’ which is fantastic. You’ll love it.” In addition, last weekend’s no-rides-included “fair” promised an alien beauty contest, a game show hosted by extraterrestrials, live music, kids’ activities and pop-up musical performances, all set against a backdrop of far too many (IMHO) vendors, the reason given for the missing parade.
For those interested in a more serious look at the UFO phenomena, there are (downplayed) lectures and symposiums presented into the night, but clearly the emphasis is on fun—and while there’s nothing wrong with that… where’s my parade? “I don’t think we have to come back next year,” I heard from folks grumbling about the “disappointing” three-minute-long alien stroll. With the absence of storm troopers and giant saucers floating down Main Street, it’s hard to disagree. While nobody has asked for my humble opinion (imagine that!) I would suggest creating a “first come, first served” vendor cut-off in order to make room for the crowd-favorite cavalcade, or find a way to create a larger vendors’ village not situated on the main drag. I fear that when word gets out about the changes made, the crowds will dwindle and the “Pine Bush UFO Incident” will become a footnote to the hot dogs and T-shirts being hawked on the side of the road. Yes, I had a good time and the photo-ops were plentiful (“like” our Facebook page to see them all), but for the event to be truly out of this world, I think a trip back to the drawing board is in order.
I’ll be happy to help, Pine Bush UFO fair/festival/stroll/parade committee. Take me to your leader.