Piedmont, Wayne County designated as UFO Capitals of Missouri under new bill

PIEDMONT, Mo. – Hundreds of UFO sightings have been reported in the Piedmont and Clearwater Lake areas for decades, garnering the attention of the FBI, military and researchers from every corner of the United States.

Most of the excitement began in 1973 when a high school basketball team was traveling home from a game and spotted something with mysterious lights hovering above a field, stopping them in the middle of the road. 

Sara Phillips, executive director of the Piedmont Area Chamber of Commerce, says another popular story involves a well-known business owner who was traveling across the Clearwater Lake spillway and noticed an alleged alien craft hovering directly above the water. 

The business owner reported a craft with various lights and told reporters the UFO would mysteriously disappear into the night sky, before reappearing at higher altitudes. The incidents made headline news, animating the nation with curiosity.

Phillips says people in Piedmont report UFO sightings daily. Some claim to have seen lights just beneath the surface of Clearwater Lake. “I’ve had so many people coming into the office bringing pictures, videos of lights and sightings they had seen,” she said. 

“Things that looked like crafts in the clouds, things that had been sent off to Missouri Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) to (evaluate) if they were credible or not. They evaluate any reported sightings, pictures and videos. They have specialists who go through and make sure they haven’t been altered or some kind of photoshop has been done to them. I’ve had several people who brought in pictures and videos that had been sent back to them saying there had not been any kind of alterations done.”

The sightings also have caught the attention of the government. Rep. Chris Dinkins, R-District 144, sponsored HB1261 to designate Piedmont and Wayne County as the UFO Capitals of Missouri. The Missouri General Assembly passed SB139 in July, making it official. 

Phillips told The Heartlander people in Piedmont either believe or they don’t, but most are not too shy to talk about it. 

“It’s pretty polarizing. It seems like people either really believe or just think it is some hoax. I’ve talked to people who have lived here their entire lives – your average country person living their quiet life right here in Piedmont, Missouri – and they will tell you about lights they’ve seen. These are people you would have never thought would have been believers in the UFO or extraterrestrial world.”

Last year, Missouri MUFON reached out to businesses in Piedmont and asked if they would be interested in hosting a 50-year anniversary event in tribute to the famous 1973 sighting. Phillips says the community jumped into action and began the planning phases for an April celebration this year that brought hundreds of visitors to town.

Vendors and food trucks lined streets for the first-ever Piedmont UFO Fest. Storefronts were decorated in UFO and alien paraphernalia as far as the eye could see. Businesses held their own events, while the local drive-in theater showed the 1977 Steven Spielberg classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and other extraterrestrial flicks. The evening was topped off with an alien-themed parade filled with glow sticks, costumes and fun. 

“It was really a neat experience to see our local community and local businesses get behind the idea of this and embrace it to make it a fantastic event. It is very different from anything else we do throughout the year,” Phillips says.

The 2023 Piedmont UFO Fest was such a success the city is making plans to hold another event on next April 6, 7 and 8 in conjunction with the 2024 total solar eclipse. Piedmont is on the direct path for the totality of the eclipse, and perhaps for visitors from another world.

Some local business owners have put together plans for an alien- and UFO-themed park. Planning phases are currently in the works. 

“Now, with the (federal) government opening up and releasing these things to the public, it makes it seem like more of a possibility that some of these things that have been reported for over 50 years now could actually be legitimate,” Phillips says. “It’s hard for me to fathom that in this great big universe, we are the only living thing here.

“I personally have not had any experiences of my own, but I think it is very interesting to open your mind up and listen to the different possibilities and explanations that could be out there – or right here.”

To watch a free YouTube documentary about the Piedmont sightings by the State Historical Society of Missouri, click here

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