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Cryptid Bash a smashing success

Hundreds of true believers convened on Morgantown Art Party in downtown Morgantown Saturday, August 7 for the first-ever Cryptid Bash.

Organized by ‘Mothboy’ podcast hosts Mike Strayer & Matthew Schang, the event brought together 30 artists and creators with fans from across the nation, all interested in cryptids and other supernatural phenomena.

Jillian Kelly, president of Morgantown Art Party, estimated that around 400 people visited 218 Walnut St. Saturday to check out cryptid themed books, artwork and activities. 

“I knew it was going to be a great event, I knew there were a lot of people, but it went over what I was expecting,” Kelly said. “It was amazing, definitely the biggest event we’ve had to date.”

Andrew Juhl, left, creator of Strange Days Paranormal Zine sits with event organizers and ‘Mothboys’ podcast hosts Mike Strayer and Matthew Schang outside of Cryptid Bash 2021 at Morgantown Art Party in downtown Morgantown Saturday.

Many of those attending were from out of town, and no small amount were from out of state. Vendor Kenzie Gleason of the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Ghouls’ podcast drove nine hours from New Hampshire to be part of the event.

Aaron and Sara Deese had her beat by a bit, driving over 24 hours from Austin, Texas to be in Morgantown Saturday.

“We’re kind of tapped into the podcasters and content creators who are putting this on,” Aaron said.  “We’ve been hanging out with them online for the past few months and just got really excited for this event and made time for it.” 

That sense of community, fomented by creators and fans finding each other online, seemed to be a key to Cryptid Bash’s inaugural success. Finding like-minded people to discuss the finer details of Mothman or the Flatwoods Monster is certainly facilitated by the internet when the other option is driving halfway across the country.

Danner Seyffer-Sprague of Conjure Dust Designs in Columbus, OH is dressed in the uniform of the “Cryptid Scouts of America,” part of his Camp Conjure Dust series of artwork displayed and on sale at Cryptid Bash Saturday afternoon.

“I was a little nervous because I’m not as outspoken as (Aaron) with these people, but I feel comfortable,” Sara said. “It’s fun, you can talk about your favorite cryptid. Why you like it, what’s the backstory. It’s so cool.”

“And nobody goes, ‘Why are you talking about this?’,” Aaron continued. “Cryptid Bash 2022. Let’s make it bigger.”

The Deese and their fellow cryptid connoisseurs may get their wish, as this year’s successful Cryptid Bash makes planning next year’s all the easier. 

“We will be doing it annually. We’ve had a bunch of vendors already sign up for next year’s event. We’re already planning that,” Schang said.

As a devotee of supernatural culture, Schang sees a benefit to these types of events beyond economics.

“I think these events are just important to preserve these stories, these legends, these lores these encounters of the strange and the odd,” he said. “It’s important we embrace it all, and this is a good way to do that.”

Note: A prior edition of this article reported around 300 people had attended the event. The number of attendants was in fact closer to 400, per a count from Morgantown Art Party.

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Danner Seyffer-Sprague places his hand on a copy of “Mothman Learns the ABC’s” a cryptid themed children’s book on sale at the Cryptid Bash at Morgantown Art Party in downtown Morgantown Saturday afternoon.

Matthew Schang, left, event organizer and ‘Mothboys’ podcast host, fist bumps Jason Shepard, who travelled from Lexington, KY to be part of Cryptid Bash 2021. The event, held Saturday in downtown Morgantown at Morgantown Art Party, attracted hundreds of visitors from across the United States.

Laser wood engravings of cryptids made by Gabriel Ringgenberg of Princeton, West Virginia were just one of many cryptid inspired creations on display and on sale at the Cryptid Bash in downtown Morgantown Saturday.

Morgantown local Max Ostrow shows off a Bigfoot Museum mug he purchased outside of the Cryptid Bash at Morgantown Art Party on Walnut Street Saturday afternoon.