Then Is Now Review – The 3rd Annual Exeter UFO Festival – By Roger Froilan


Exeter, New Hampshire is jockeying to become the next Roswell. It is a quaint New England town, the center of which is chock full of yuppie stores, over-priced sandwich shops with limited menus, and several cool old buildings. Exeter is also home to both “The Incident at Exeter” and “The Hill Abduction”, which are two famous UFO cases. I had the good fortune to be able to attend the The 3rd Annual Exeter UFO Festival with my son, Spencer, on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011.

While one would think that a UFO festival would be filled with complete nutters, quite the contrary took place. Yes, there were a couple of goofy nerds that unwittingly provided entertainment with their behavior, but for the most part the attendees were average people, many of which were of an older age. There were lectures all day in the Town Hall, and fun activities for families in the park including: crafts, games, sidewalk chalk alien drawing, stories, an Alien Pet Costume Contest, a kids ET Costume Contest, UFO Construction for Families, and Alien Crash Site & Debris Field Construction using recyclable materials. A hamburger & hot dog vendor helped satiate the attendees’ appetites by providing a normal menu of good stuff, rather than the chic upscale sushi bars and sandwich shops in the area.

   Left: A dog prepares to be judged in the contest, although if his friends see him…

For those who aren’t familiar with the stories, the Exeter Encounter, otherwise known as the Incident at Exeter, happened in 1965 in which a young hitchhiker had a close encounter with a UFO, called the cops, and two other, highly credible, police officers also witnessed the event. More detailed info on this encounter can be found HERE. The other case that has put Exeter on the map was the 1961 abduction of Betty and Barney Hill (okay, get all your Flintstones jokes off your chest before continuing reading).

Betty and Barney were an interracial couple traveling from Canada, back to their home in Portsmouth, NH. Along they way, they tracked an erratically moving object in the sky and eventually got out of their car to see it better. The last thing they remembered after going back to their car was the Indian Head hotel, and they realized that somehow 2 hours had passed and they were 35 miles away from where they had initially stopped. The Hills didn’t go public with this experience until well after they separately underwent hypnosis in which both told identical stories of an amazing abduction experience. More info on the Hill Abduction can be found HERE. One particular fact about the abduction comes into play during the Exeter festival was this: under hypnosis Betty was able to draw a star chart that the aliens supposedly revealed to her as a hologram when she asked where they were from. This is a side note, but its importance will be revealed later in this article.

These stories provided the backdrop for a fun day of lectures by famous UFOlogists and researchers. This included John Paul Oswald, Kathleen Marden, Jeff & Jess Finn, Steve Firmani, Dr. Stanton Friedman, and Richard Dolan.

Kathleen Marden, niece of Betty Hill, UFO & Abduction Author and Lecturer, and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Frontier Science, gave an impressive speech refuting claims made over the years that tried to debunk the Hill Abduction, calling it a hoax. One of the more famous disputes against the Hills’ claims was that Barney had seen an episode of the Outer Limits called “The Bellero Shield” the night before and that his description (under Hypnosis) was similar to the creature ,the Bifrost Man, portrayed on the famous Science Fiction/Horror Television series. Ms. Marden did a brilliant side-by-side comparison of the alien from the fictional show, and Barney’s description of the alien he encountered, and it was obvious that his alien was nothing like the one from the series.

Jeff & Jess Fin are husband and wife filmmakers who had the world premiere of their documentary at the Festival. The film, entitled “Strange Septembers: The Hill Abduction & The Exeter Encounter” was a labor of love that started as a short and blossomed into a feature. The parts that describe the two incidents are compelling and keep you engaged, but the Finn’s go an extra length to prove the credibility of the witnesses after each encounter. While credibility is good in UFO cases, I felt that those segments could have been far shorter and the film should have been an hour, not 90 minutes. But I’m sure it will go on to gather some acclaim as the way the facts are presented makes it hard to dispute the claims. Dr. Stanton Freedman and Kathleen Marden appeared in the film as did James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons who portrayed Barney and Betty Hill in the 1975 TV Movie “The UFO Incident”.

Steve Firmani, President of the New England chapter of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) was on hand to present a documented case from 2010 in which two teenage lovers were picked up by a UFO while still in their car. The reports he read were chilling, and the police record indicates that there was no damage to the car’s exterior, except that the bottom had been torn to bits, probably from when it was dropped back to Earth, thus deploying the airbags. I highly recommend that UFO enthusiasts look further into MUFON as they have many meetings all over New England.

The highlight of the day for me was seeing the extraordinary Dr. Stanton Friedman, noted Nuclear Physicist and UFOlogist. He has studied UFOs since 1958, and was the first to break the story about the Majestic-12 agency and their sanctioning by Eisenhower. He is also a regular guest on the syndicated radio program “Coast to Coast AM”, has been in numerous UFO documentaries on TV, and is the author of several books including: Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident”, “ScienceWas Wrong”, and co-wrote Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience” with Kathleen Marden.

Dr. Friedman’s lecture was brand new and he had never given it before that day. He discussed the map that Betty had drawn from memory, under hypnosis. It is a star chart that supposedly shows the aliens’ trade routes, and Earth was one of the stars. A lady named Margorie Fish took the drawing and created a 3-dimensional model of it in the 1970s. The idea was to try to figure out which stars they were. It took many frustrating years for Margorie to narrow things down and ultimately, Betty’s map proved to be identical to actual stars in the galaxy in terms of proximity and distance. Some of these stars include Tau Ceti and Zeta Reticuli. The truly compelling piece of evidence that Dr. Friedman was able to share with us about the map was that ALL of the stars were very much like our own sun although several of them were about a billion years older. Back in the 1970s we couldn’t have possibly been able to determine this, but because of telescope satellites we now have a clearer view of the galaxy. Because these stars are like our own sun, but older, indicates that if there is indeed alien life there, they would be older and far more technologically advanced than we are.

Above Left: Betty’s Drawing of the Star Map under Hypnosis.                

  Above Right: The Actual Stars That Line up with Betty’s Map.

Dr. Friedman, an expert on nuclear engines, went on to describe how nuclear propulsion would probably the best way for us to travel in space, and this is probably why we are frequented with visits from aliens. Earth, as we all know, is still very warlike, and the thought that we would soon have a viable way of traveling through space might not sit well with our galactic neighbors. He is a very credible scientist, and makes no bones about his belief in extraterrestrial life. I found that to be honest and refreshing, and seeing him in person was great fun!

Whether you believe in UFOs or not, or whether you believe that some UFO occurrences are actually aliens or not, the stories presented at the Festival were compelling with highly credible eyewitness accounts. It is the height of arrogance to believe that we are the only life forms in the universe, but by the same token science has yet to prove that aliens do indeed exist. Or should I say the governments have yet to tell us that they already know aliens exist? Much modern UFOlogy dates back to the 1940s, particularly the 1947 crash at Roswell. So today, we are still taking on the question of what exactly UFOs are, and we still have a long way to go.

Leave your comments on what you think about the UFO phenomenon! Positive or negative, we welcome an open discussion!

Above: Spencer has a close encounter with a real live alien! Honest!

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