POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The 2019 installment of the Mothman Festival will be memorable not only for the crowds (and traffic and tourism dollars) but a Presidential Tweet.
Prior to the event, Jeff Wamsley, festival organizer, predicted a crowd of 10-12,000 people. Though an exact number is difficult to discern, Wamsley said “we were pleased with the crowd numbers…every bit of the 12,000.”
Wamsley added, “there was never a problem from what I think is the most well-behaved 12,000 people you could ask for. They all love our town and seem to get along great with everyone. Obviously the traffic and parking issues will need to be looked at closer, the city crew does the best they can do with a crowd this big so we will be brainstorming some new ideas for next year.”
Mayor Brian Billings actually parked cars at Krodel Park on Saturday morning, to provide additional parking for the festival. The parking fee was $5 per vehicle, with all proceeds going into the city’s parks and recreation fund, specifically for recently purchased Christmas decorations. Billings said around $2,000 was raised which translated into parking 400-plus cars.
“What an exciting weekend for Point Pleasant,” Billings said. “This had to be the biggest and best Mothman Festival to date. The people who visited our great city were so kind and impressed with our city and the citizens who greeted them on Main Street. We had people from California to Maine, and even Canada and beyond to come and learn about that winged creature.”
Though Saturday had the capacity crowds, Sunday not only had a large number of visitors but received some unexpected recognition via Twitter, in fact, from one of the most famous Twitter accounts in the world, namely, the one belonging to President Donald J. Trump.
Sunday morning, President Trump retweeted a message from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, III. Manchin was pictured in front of the Mothman Statue, stating, “Wishing everyone in Mason County a happy Mothman Festival today!” In addition to retweeting Manchin’s message, the President added his own message, stating, “I go along with Joe!”
“President Trump’s and Senator Manchin’s tweets were a big deal for us,” Wamsley said. “It just goes to show how many people know about the Mothman legend and where it all started.”
Billings was equally enthused about the attention from the President, stating, “I was glad to see President Trump give a shoutout to the Mothman Festival. This city has so much to offer outside our walls and when you see the President of the United States tweeting, and other government officials making remarks, its shows we are being talked about throughout our great country. With this making national news it will only help to bring bigger and better times to our great, historic city.”
Wamsley’s daughter Ashley, also a downtown business owner who assists with the festival, initially shared the President’s tweet. When asked her opinion of it, she quoted a famous line from the movie “Jaws.”
“We’re going to need a bigger boat,” she said, referencing the exposure the festival potentially gained via one Tweet. A festival that had already packed downtown for the better part of two days. In fact, some online media outlets began referencing the festival Sunday following the President’s tweet, ultimately giving the event, as well as Mothman and Point Pleasant, the type of advertising that can’t be bought.
When it comes to the festival itself, by 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the streets had been cleared and it was as if it never happened, with the exception of the revenue it brought into the city and surrounding counties.
“I want to give a big thanks to the city crew, Butch Bonecutter and the guys, that set and tear down the festival in such an organized way,” Jeff said. “The vendors all comment on how they love this festival because of how well they are treated by the city crews…and the people who come to the festival always comment on how beautiful Point Pleasant is and how they love our town. I don’t think we can ask for more than that.”
Jeff, along with the late Carolin Harris, are credited with starting the festival.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.