“McMinnville UFO Festival – 2018 @ McMinnville, Oregon, USA” by Richard F. Yates

Midmorning on Friday, May 18th, Michael King and I left Longview, WA, in his overloaded “Elephant” truck/van/thing and made our way to McMinnville, where the 19th Annual UFO Festival had kicked off the day before. We arrive to partially cloudy skies, but no rain. We found a parking space, made use of the portable bathrooms, and then set about constructing the Art-Horse Studios’ booth!

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The vending and such ran from 4:00 P.M. until 9:00 P.M. on Friday, and we did a brisk business. We ALSO saw a number of interesting folks in “festival” attire—snarky pop-culture t-shirts, aluminum-foil hats, and some folks in full-on space costumes. One little old lady (dressed in green face-paint and weenie bopper antennas) introduced me to her “husband,” who she pushed around in a stroller, and her adopted daughter (who was creepy as HELL. Babies aren’t supposed to be blue—even if they’re from outer space…) I snapped a picture and backed away, quickly, as the woman started talking to the baby doll…

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Anyway, the neighboring vendors were all very friendly and helpful, and most of the thronging crowds were there to have a good time and enjoy the fun. By 8:00 P.M., we started prepping to leave for the night. We’d had decent sales, ate some great chicken-strips from one of the food booths, and were SERIOUSLY ready for a bit of rest. Because we were so tired, we decided not to bother packing everything up, and instead just pulled the hanging bits into the tent, put the walls on the sides of the booth, and zipped up for the night, figuring everything would be fine until we returned in the morning. This is what we’d done at the Yelm UFO Festival last summer. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a poor decision.

Neither Mike nor I are good sleepers, so we were up early and back at the festival site, coffee in hand, by about 7:00 A.M. After finding a parking spot, we headed for the booth, but spotted one of the shirts that Mike had designed and printed laying on the ground under a bench about fifty yards from our tent. This did not bode well… We proceeded with mounting dread to the tent, unzipped it, and had our suspicions confirmed: we’d been burgled in the night. As we were setting up for the day, Mike did a quick mental inventory, and guesses that whoever had paid us a visit got away with a couple hundred dollars in merchandise. (At least, he said, they’d like the designs well enough to steal them!)

Now the “interesting” thing about this burglary is that we have a pretty good idea who might have been involved. Within minutes of arriving at the booth and starting to set up, a fellow in a yellow hoodie and a ball cap showed up carrying a backpack, and he sat down on the edge of a brick planter-box about twenty feet from our booth. He’s twitching and wide eyed and staring, and with my keen observation skills, I noticed that our black-light was sticking out of his backpack. I mentioned this to the man, and he starts talking—and spins a wild tale about getting dropped off in town about 3:30 A.M., and his friend, who he doesn’t really know that good, a guy named “Casper,” wants him to hold this blacklight for him. And he doesn’t want it, of course, but he agrees to hold it for Casper… Blah, blah, blah… He also has one of our shirts in his pack, which he claims he found on a sidewalk a couple of blocks away.

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After “UNTRUE CONFESSIONS” goes on for FAR TOO LONG—the guy won’t shut up, tells us his whole life story, how he’s trying to get himself together and get a job, etc., this other guy rides up on a bike WEARING one of Mike’s shirts! Mike askes the guy where he got the shirt, and the guy says he’s had it for a while. I said, NO. Mike MADE that shirt and we know who we sold them to. Then the guy says, “Well, I didn’t break into your tent and steal it…” Mike asks, “So where did you get it?” And the guy gets indignant and says he won’t be accused of stealing, and he rides away. The other guy says he has to go use the bathroom, and he slides off as well. He says he’ll be right back—and we never see him again, either. My head can’t quite wrap around all this kind of shit…

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At that point, we called the McMinnville police station to TRY to report the burglary, but they aren’t open on the weekends. (Crime only happens Monday through Friday in McMinnville, I guess.) Mike left a message, told them where our both was and asked them to come down, so we could file a report and show them the photos we had of the suspicious parties. The police NEVER arrived, and no report was ever filed.

ANYWAY, despite the rather unpleasant start to the day, once the festivities got going (at 10:00 A.M.,) the negative fell away and the fun started. Before things got TOO busy, I decided to go walkabout and take some photos. Most of the shops along 3rd were decked out for the festival, and there were cool sculptures and chalk drawings and such all over the place.

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One of the shops that I stopped at was The Vortex, owned by a gentleman named Bruce, who used to run a cool “Alternative” record store in Longview, WA, back in the 1990s. He remembered me (I’d worked for him for about a year) and introduced me to the other guy working in his shop. “This is Rick Yates—you’ve seen his artwork online!” he says. (Wow… I didn’t know I had anyone who had “seen” my stuff in McMinnville, besides Bruce. We’re still friends on the Faceboot!) Anyway, if you’re near McMinnville and want to buy some cool records, look up The Vortex! He even still has some extremely cool grunge-era concert posters on the walls, with some AWESOME fluorescent colors, that you can look at—or BUY, if you’re rich enough. I’m poor—so I grabbed a used CD by The Legendary Pink Dots out of the bargain bin! (I WANTED the green vinyl THROBBING GRISTLE record, but I wasn’t authorized to spend very much money on this trip…)

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The rest of the festival was extremely busy, and there were moments when Mike and I were almost overwhelmed trying to help multiple people all at once. (Perhaps a festival like that might need THREE workers next time…) The sales numbers were good—even taking into account our unintended donation to the local street denizens. Mike agreed that the event was successful enough to warrant a return next year (although we’re going to load everything into the van before leaving next time.) We didn’t see any lights in the sky or experience any missing time, unfortunately, but the carnival atmosphere and friendly people made the trip fun anyway. Looking forward to the next UFO Fest in Yelm at the end of July!*

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*I should probably mention, once again, that I am a skeptic when it comes to UFOs and aliens and most other fringe topics. I was, however, a cultural anthropology major as an undergrad, and I still LOVE the stories that the FOLK tell themselves. I’m no longer an academic, and I’m certainly not a believer in the paranormal, but I still ENJOY all this stuff and try to collect as many of the tales as I can, and I often make use of fringe topics in my writing and art—but you probably knew that! Just thought I’d reiterate my position, so as not to entertain on FALSE PRETENSES!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)



About richardfyates

Compulsive creator of the bizarre and absurd. (Artist, writer, poet, provocateur...)
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5 Responses to “McMinnville UFO Festival – 2018 @ McMinnville, Oregon, USA” by Richard F. Yates

  1. Pingback: “McMinnville UFO Festival – 2018 @ McMinnville, Oregon, USA” by Richard F. Yates — The Primitive Entertainment Workshop | Fantasy Gift Sources: Book Reviews, Article Resources, News

  2. Pingback: “Back to Work” by Richard F. Yates | The Primitive Entertainment Workshop

  3. MARK COUNTS says:

    This is for the Dr. Yatu Contemporary Anthropological Folk Tales Project. ……All kidding aside, I would like to contribute and relate an incident that I was involved in during the late 70s. I was at the time, a young lad in my early 20s ( I am 60 now) and was still living with my parents in semi rural Rainier Oregon. It was after dark on the evening of my encounter, and I was on my way to see my sweetie Mary Iba at her residence a few miles away. Our driveway at the time wound it’s way from Old Hwy 30 to our parking area near my parents home, a distance of about 220 yards. I was nearing the end of the driveway where it sloped down to meet the road, when I noticed what I first took to be some kind of elevated lamp post above the pasture of our neighbors property which was directly across the highway from my position. I thought this new structure was a silly thing to erect, being out in the pasture —-“a nightlight for the cows?” It then became clear that these lights were not connected to the ground in any way! What I perceived was three circular lights, each approximately 12 feet in diameter, arranged in a triangular pattern, about 40 to 50 feet in the air over the field. They were completely stock still with no wavering or floating movement whatsoever. I immediately knew this was something outside the range of anything I was familiar with, and I was quite knowledgeable about all types of aircraft AND space craft, as I had a keen interest in aeronautics from an early age. This object resembled nothing I had ever seen or read about. I became quite excited at the prospect of seeing what I assumed was a bonafide “UFO” and, with my 1972 Chevrlotet still running, opened the door to step outside to see more clearly. I observed that the lights were very dim, scarcely providing any illumination to the surrounding area; as if someone had taken three 12 foot hoops, stretched canvas over them and backlit them with a 60 watt bulb. This object was about 150 ft from me, and I could not discern what type of superstructure they were connected to. After a few moments of watching it with no movement or change in brightness, I reached into the car and retrieved a small flashlight that I carried for emergencies and flashed it on and off repeatedly at the object. With no response from that, I then placed my right foot on the headlight dimmer switch on the car’s floorboard and repeatedly flashed the object directly in front of me. Nothing happened for a short while after my attempt at signaling this strange thing, when, very slowly, it began to simultaneously rise and move southeast, just over the treetops. As it began to move away, I got back in the car and determined to follow it. I was heading east, following Old Hwy. 30, with the object above me and crossing the road diagonally to my right. As it increased it’s speed, I did as well, and it began to pull away from me even as I reached a speed of 60 mph. In just a few moments I had traveled the 3/4 mile to the turnoff at Elk Creek road which was where I had intended to go that evening to visit my girlfriend. as I climbed the slight incline at the foot of the turnoff, I could still see the object as it traveled onward, over the Boneville power lines on a southeast course at an exponential increase in altitude and speed until it was completely gone from view, having covered perhaps 30 miles in a split second against the clear sky background, lost in the glow from Portland’s lights in the far distance. I continued on to my original destination, with no “lost time” that I was aware of, with quite a tale to tell to my gal who could only wonder at my description of what I had seen. So there you have it….recollected to the best of my ability these many years since the encounter, which I will never forget.

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