Thursday, August 18, 2005

UFO Days Festival

Saucer Abducting Cow

Alabama town celebrates the time UFOs came to visit

     FYFFE, Ala. (AP) — Once it seemed like everyone on Earth and beyond was watching this northeast Alabama town.

     A string of UFO sightings spawned international media coverage and a mini-industry in Fyffe in early 1989, with hundreds of people showing up to gaze into the night sky in search of flying saucers. Or whatever.

     Flying objects will be back in Fyffe this weekend, but none are unidentified. Playing off its fame, the city of 971 people is staging a UFO — "Unforgettable Family Outing" — featuring hot-air balloons.

     Melissa Hildreth, co-chair of the committee that planned the UFO Days Festival, said Fyffe thought it was time to capitalize on the notoriety it received when so many people thought they had spotted flying saucers overhead.

     "We are more sophisticated now," Hildreth said. "We're able to laugh at ourselves and turn that UFO history into a tourist event that everybody can enjoy."

     The festival is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and balloons will fly at dawn and dusk, the best times for good lift and light breezes. All events will take place in a park behind the town's school.

     Along with balloon flights and rides there will be craft and food vendors, music, clowns, an antique car show, Civil War re-enactors and a presentation by the United Cherokee Nation.

     Fyffe's brief time as a UFO hotbed began when a resident reported seeing a weird object in the sky. Two police officers went to investigate and saw a triangular object they said passed overhead without a sound.

     That led to a string of UFO sightings, and reports of cattle mutilations and mysterious black helicopters weren't far behind. With all the hubbub far behind it, Fyffe figured it was time to celebrate and rekindle some excitement.

     "Fyffe is a small town with a great family atmosphere," said Mayor Larry Lingerfelt said.

     And besides, the Legislature proclaimed it the "UFO Capital of Alabama" back in the day.

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