Attendees brave the rainy weather during the 14th annual UFO Festival in McMinnville, Ore., Saturday. / Michael Davis, Statesman Journal
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - Jim Sparks claims he has been abducted by aliens so many times he doesn't even swear at them anymore when they hunt him down and disrupt his otherwise normal life.
Sparks, author of the book The Keepers, entranced a near-capacity audience Saturday morning at the 14th annual UFO Festival. His expertise is in aliens who fit a familiar description: enlarged cranium, almond-shaped eyes, skin the color of the sky just before a tornado. The so-called "gray" alien species has been intruding upon his existence since 1988, Sparks says, and he has spent most of those years resisting them. But in the recent past, he says, the aliens, who communicate telepathically, have begun to loosen their grip during abductions, providing glimpses into their multidimensional world.
As an example, Sparks says time travel is "an everyday occurrence" for the creatures who are behind those close encounters of the third kind, which is to say they make frequent guest appearances on this planet.
Sparks thinks the grays have "an agenda" to keep us from destroying the earth by our own disregard for the natural world. He said aliens warn their human captives about environmental peril by showing them a kind of higher-than-high-tech slide show when they are taken aboard their spacecraft. Perhaps that's where Al Gore got the idea for An Inconvenient Truth.
Las Vegas television reporter George Knapp, a frequent late-night host of the fizzy Coast to Coast radio program and a pursuer of the paranormal, provided a chilling update about a parcel of land once occupied by Native Americans. All manner of unexplained phenomena has occurred there, according to a rancher who owned it. Among the reported menaces were a bulletproof wolf, UFOs shaped like Winnebagos and liquid-filled blue balls of light that seem to feed on human fear. (Note to summer vacationers: Steer clear of Skinwalker Ridge in Utah.)
Among other highlights of Saturday's second day of UFO festivities was a puddle-filled fun run for terrestrials followed by a costume parade through the heart of the historic downtown. Families lined up under a fairly steady rain to enjoy the promenade, which included appearances by Star Wars Stormtroopers, a vertically challenged Darth Vader, a gaggle of kids dressed as characters from Avatar, damp-but-determined Girl Scouts, a beaming alien queen and a marching unit of teens who played the garage-band classic Louie Louie.(The Statesman Journal has a full photo gallery.)
Taking it all in was a family of four from Keizer, who wore oversized alien headdresses. "Our last name is spelled C-l-i-n-g-e-r-m-a-n, but on our planet it is pronounced Smith," said family patriarch Aaron, who was joined by his wife Diana and children Indigo and Ian.
At McMenamin's Hotel Oregon, workers were preparing for the Alien Costume Ball, Saturday evening's festival finale.
Attendees made the best of the weather and the wondrous weirdness of a festival that celebrates a flying saucer's appearance in the skies above McMinnville on May 11, 1950.
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Read the original story: The day the Earth stood soaked at Oregon UFO Festival