The point of greatest eclipse just happens to be outside of Hopkinsville, Kentucky but the folks at an alien festival down the road in Kelly swear it was written in the stars. The Little Green Men Days Festival is an annual celebration remembering when aliens allegedly visited the rural community 62 years ago to the day of the total solar eclipse.
Geraldine Sutton Stith is used to the attention her family’s famed alien encounter has brought her. She’s written two books about the night little green men attacked the Sutton farmhouse. Smith reads from her book: “Lucky could see everyone was exhausted- they had been fighting the little men for about 2 hours. It was time to do something. He thought if they could get to Hopkinsville, they could get help and all would be well.”
Geraldine’s father Elmer - known as “Lucky” - was one of the 11 witnesses who described 12 to 15 “little men” with long arms, huge eyes and a metallic appearance. He shot at the creatures and reported the incident to the local police. “Eleven lives were changed that night on August 21st 1955. To this day, the one’s who are still alive are still affected," Smith reads.
Whether or not the story is true, it’s become a widely circulated UFO story. And Kelly, a town of about 300 people, celebrates the encounter every year on August 21.
And this year, faraway visitors are descending upon the festivities as the town happens to be in the path of solar eclipse totality.
Steve Flynn and his wife Chris from Miami, Florida are among the thousands of people pouring into the region to watch the celestial phenomenon. “Through Googling around we saw the little green man thing pop up on the screen, so we thought we’d drive up here to check it out," Steve said.
Jack and Joyce Weaver from Cincinnati, Ohio, say their daughter told them about the eclipse years ago. “She’s the one that told us about it to begin with… I have in interest in astronomy and I didn’t know my daughter did. She’s the one that suggested it to me and I thought it’d be a good thing to get together for a weekend," said Jack.
A large metal saucer greets visitors entering Kelly Station Park. The festival has a Roswell, New Mexico - local county fair vibe. There’s rides for kids, carnival games... and an ample supply of alien trinkets: glowing heads, wooden saucer hangers and even bigfoot buttons.
Kyle Kadel from Somerset, Kentucky has a booth with merchandise for every kind of cryptid. “We go to the Mothman Festival in West Virginia and this year we’re going to Crypticon. We’re also opening a paranormal museum in Somerset," he said.
Some people were eager to share alien encounters of their own. Ron Noel said he was abducted when he lived in Orlando, Florida. “Three of us were abducted by aliens. We didn’t know it, but apparently they had been tracking us for quite a while. I went in for surgery on my hand and they found an implant on my bone.”
Festival organizer Joann Smithey said having the solar eclipse fall on the anniversary of the alien encounter feels like a little bit more than just luck. And Geraldine Sutton Smith, the daughter of Lucky, who defended his farm from the little green men 62 years ago, said it’s all just for fun.