It was another sweltering, summer day in Kelly, Kentucky just a few miles north of Hopkinsville. The mercury pushed to 95 on that late, August day in 1955, and the Sutton family settled back into their farmhouse in the evening to enjoy a visit from Billy Ray Taylor who'd come down from Pennsylvania.
Around 7pm, Billy stepped out of the home, headed to the well. As he drew the water, his eyes boggled in amazement at what he saw about a quarter of a mile away. From the vastness of the sky, a large object lowered itself onto a nearby field.
Stunned and frightened, Billy ran back to the house. No one knew what to make of Billy as he relayed what he just saw. Then, the family dog barked.
Billy and "Lucky" Sutton grabbed some guns and stepped out onto the porch with authority. They weren't prepared for what they saw.
There it stood: a creature about four feet tall. It had large eyes and and ears, tiny little legs, and hands with claws. It almost looked like a little man, but the proportions were unlike anything they've ever seen. Out of shock and surprise, one of the men fired a shot at close range. The creature flew back, quickly got to its feet, and scurried off into the woods.
Billy and Lucky ran back inside. There were about twelve people in the home, and their first priority was to keep whatever that was outside. All of a sudden, a distorted face appeared at a window. Lucky's gun recoiled as a shot blew out the screen.
They ran back outdoors to see if they'd gotten the creature. There was no trace of the visitor. Suddenly, a hand reached down from the porch roof and grabbed Billy by the hair. After a short struggle, he managed to get free.
They soon discovered there was more than one. Another was in a tree while others milled about the property. Little green men they would later describe. They ran back inside, and, for the next several hours, were besieged by up to a dozen of them. The aliens wandered around the house, occasionally popping up to peek in the windows.
A group of the home's occupants waited for the opportune time. They rushed out to Billy's car and sped off to the Hopkinsville Police Department.
For the rest of the night, investigators from the city, county, and state explored the area around the farmhouse. Officials from the Air Force showed up. In the end, there was no clear evidence as to what happened, but all who were questioned gave consistent reports. Later, experts would come to say that the Sutton story was true as far as they could tell. Evidence of a hoax never surfaced.
The Kelly incident, as it was known, became one of the most studied and storied accounts of a UFO landing and alien encounter in American history. Kelly moved on as a tiny, rural community with a unique spot in national history.
Nearly 60 years later, as Kelly looked for way to raise funds for a new community center and fire station, leaders decided to resurrect and celebrate their heritage with the Little Green Men Days Festival.
The annual weekend in August celebrates Kelly's brush with the out-of-this-world visitors with special music, a 38-foot recreation of a UFO, costume contests, arts and crafts, and more.
Geraldine Sutton Stith, Lucky's daughter and author of Alien Legacy, comes back to Kelly during the festival to speak and discuss the incident with visitors. Her father kept that night hidden from her for many years. "It's a fascinating story. And the reason people love it is because it happened to a family that didn't know any better. This was a farming family, a country family, a religious family. They had no idea was an alien was. The event terrified my father till the day he died," she says.
More information is at kellyky.com.
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