The perfect place to be for the August 21 Great American Eclipse of 2017 has to be Kelly and Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Not only does the path of totality go right through the two places, but they also host the Kelly Little Green Men Days Festival. It kicked off on Friday, August 18 and ends on the day of the total solar eclipse. It turns out that the day of the eclipse is the 62nd anniversary of the “Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter,” when a group of adults and children claimed little green men visited.
As the NASA maps show, much of Southwest Kentucky is within the path of totality. If you’re in cities like Marion, Paducah, Princeton and, of course, Hopkinsville, you will see a total solar eclipse. Hopkinsville is billing itself as the home of the “point of greatest eclipse,” even launching the site Eclipseville.com.
Here’s a look at the 1955 Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter and the festival.
1. On the Night of August 21, 1955, a Group of Adults & Children Claimed They Were Attacked by Little Green Alien Creatures
The story of the “Kelly Little Green Men” begins on the night of August 21, 1955. According to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, some of the 11 residents of the Sutton farmhouse claimed to have seen aliens. First, at 7:00, Billy Ray Taylor saw a bright light move across the sky. Notably, Taylor’s story would differ greatly from the other witness’, so skeptics who think the whole thing was a hoax note how different his tale was.
An hour after Taylor saw the “flying sauce,” a dog barked. Taylor and Elmer “Lucky” Sutton went outside and saw a creature. They ran back into the house to get a rifle and shotgun. Over the next three hours, the two men “fought” with the aliens, shooting at them. During one exchange of gunfire, Sutton apparently go so close that one of the aliens used a huge hand to grab him by the hair. No aliens were killed during the battle.
Later, all 11 people who lived at the Sutton farmhouse went over to the Hopkinsville police headquarters to report their alien battle. When police arrived at the scene, they found nothing except a hole in a window screen. The next day, they brought the U.S. Air Force over, and they reportedly determined the case was “unidentified,” reports the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
2. The Descriptions of the Aliens Kept Changing Over Time
There’s little evidence to back up the story and the changing descriptions of the aliens doesn’t help. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s Joe Nickell notes that Sutton’s son said years after the incident that his father said the aliens were “silver” with a “greenish silver glow.” The “little green men” title the aliens earned was introduced by national media over the years. The number of total aliens they saw grew from just one or two to as many as 15.
The aliens also supposedly stood four feet tall, had “big heads,” “huge eyes” and claw-like hands with “spindly” legs. But one of the other witnesses said the aliens stood just two and a half feet tall. The aliens have also been described as “goblins.”
In addition, Skeptoid notes that in Nickell’s research for a 2005 Kentucky New Era supplement, he found that neighbors didn’t describe hearing a gunshot “battle.” A neighbor said he heard four gunshots, which he ignored because he thought they were firecrackers.
Skeptoid also points out that the part of the story about the Air Force coming and declaring the case “unidentified” could be bogus. Four military police from an Army base – not an Air Force base – visited the scene. Skeptoid couldn’t find why they were called to the scene to help local police though.
3. It’s Possible That the Aliens Were Just Local Great Horned Owls
The species is often called the “hoot owl” and some of the descriptions of the aliens appear to fit descriptions of the bird. They have large heads, yellow eyes, light-grey feathers and long wings that could look like arms. They also stand 17 to 25 inches tall.
There’s an explanation for every part of the witnesses’ story. The “glow” of the aliens might have just come from other farm lights. There were reports of meteors, which Taylor could have mistaken for a “flying saucer.”
4. The 1986 Movie ‘Critters’ Is Loosely Based on the Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter & It Inspired a Musical
The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter has inspired popular culture, like many other well-documented alien encounters. In his book Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008, Bruce G. Hallenbeck claims that the story loosely inspired Critters, notes Blumhouse.com. In that 1986 cult movie, a family in rural Kansas are attacked by aliens.
The story also inspired a musical called It Came From Kentucky, which was performed in Chicago in 2015.
The Pokemnon Sableye also looks curiously like the Hopkinsville Goblin aliens.
5. The Festival Usually Only Draws 3,000 People, but 200,000 Are Expected This Year
Frank Brown, president of the Kelly Community Organization, which has organized the annual festival since 2011, told the Courier-Journal earlier this month that 3,000 people usually show up for the Kelly Little Green Men Festival each year. But with the total solar eclipse this year, they expect 200,000 people.
“People have asked me if we’re prepared and I don’t think we can be fully prepared,” Brown said. He also said that it’s “50-50” when it comes to people believing the story in the community. “Fifty percent think something did happen and 50 percent just want to have fun,” he said.
The last day of the event will include a concert from Black Cat Cadillac and a speaker will take the stage to explain safe ways to view the eclipse. The solar eclipse reaches totality at 1:24:39 p.m. CDT local time and lasts two minutes, 40 seconds.