At the edge of the Shawangunk Mountains, in a northern corner of Orange County, NY, is a quaint village known as Pine Bush, NY. It’s one of those places where you’ll find an active main street, friendly neighborhoods, horse farms, a winery or two and a very intriguing claim.
Bet you didn’t know that Pine Bush has the most UFO sightings in the world. Or almost.
Speak to some of the villagers there and they’ll point you to West Searsville Road. Over the fields, if one sticks it out long enough, you might see some otherworldly activity. Oh, yes, it still happens, according to local sources. And every time it does, reports of the event appear in the newspapers.
Of course, none of this is a secret. No one here even thinks it’s strange. Aliens are just one more aspect that makes Pine Bush a welcoming place to live. And interesting. To commemorate this unique quality, the village has created a museum and annual festival.
I discovered this wonderful place awhile back. Always meant to go, but for some strange reason, neither my husband at the time nor anyone I knew wanted to go with me. Suit yourselves, I said. I’m going away. That’s when I discovered my sister and a few of our friends decided to check it out, back in 2019. edPine Bush transforms itself into an alien wonderland, catering to every off-worldly taste. All sorts of vendors. Buy yourself a T-shirt. Authors of otherworldly experiences sold indy-published books chronicling their experiences, along with zine seller too. A speakers’ tent features lecturers from MUFON, as well as other ufologists, who’ll make your hair levitate off the back of your neck, as they recount what they’ve seen, felt, heard and yes, probed. Kids (and their parents) could feast upon green gummy alien heads. And what’s a festival without kettle corn?
Alas, last year proved too much to the organizers of this wonderful annual celebration of all that is weird and mysterious and scary. COVID-19 shut down everything. Being under lockdown kind presented its own form of alienation and weirdness. Glancing at these photos, I wondered if I’d ever be able to have fun like this again.
Turning the page to 2021, it seemed so. Although the UFO Fest shrank in size, quite possibly due to Delta and people’s hesitancy to catch it. Nevertheless, it occurred, a victory of sorts. My friend Sam and I went, along with a couple of others. Absent were most of the authors, the escape room, the Star Trek Fan Club, many of the participants in exotic alien getups, and a lot of porch displays. What genuinely scared me was the lack of masks worn by the crowd. Sure, it was outside, but geez, with COVID-19 on the rise again, why add to the terror? Fortunately, we sensibly covered our faces.
The Pine Bush UFO and Paranormal Museum held its reopening a few weeks earlier, but tons of visitors headed inside, me and my friends among them. Earlier in the year, I did a tiny bit of consulting with them and was curious to see what came of the place. The town took over a storefront building and transformed it into a collection of exhibits done well on a tiny budget. The guides took us through the galleries and spoke of the numerous sightings, noises, earth trembles and other unexplainable phenomena. There were pictures, videos and a few artifacts, as well as interactive exhibits. It also seems there’s a gathering of Sasquatches hanging about in the Hudson Valley woods. An outbuilding is home to a small paranormal exhibit, also containing creepy artifacts, helpfully explained by a video that details the origin stories behind the haunted items.
After one more review of the vendors and the festival, we decided it was time to head on over to the Cup And Saucer Diner. Where else? One works up an appetite exploring alien worlds, and nothing satisfies that hunger more than a wrap with a cup of joe.
Later, as I drove home, I thought about how fortunate I was. Not so much as to be taken aboard a intergalactic transport ship to be thoroughly examined against my will, but to have such a treasure to look forward to each year. I really missed not being able to go, and despite all the sadness that’s descended upon us these days, there’s one little bit of joy that never fails to bring a bit of excitement in my otherwise ordinary terrestrial life. And friends who’ll gladly attend with me.