The Vandalia Gathering is an annual celebration of traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts, and food of West Virginia that takes place every Memorial Day weekend at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.
This festival showcases some of the best West Virginia has to offer, especially when it comes to tall tales.
The Liars’ Contest is one where tall tales are encouraged and even rewarded. The top three liars receive the titles of “Big Liar” for third place, “Bigger Liar” for second place, and the first place winner receives the title “Biggest Liar” as well as the Golden Shovel.
Ripley local Suzy McGinley has been competing in the Liars’ Contest for the past three years, and just recently she placed in the top three. McGinley took the third spot and won the coveted title of “Big Liar.”
“Tall tales are judged in three areas, creativity, presentation, and timing,” McGinley said. “I almost placed last year, but I went over my five minutes.”
McGinley’s winning tale featured a West Virginia favorite, the Mothman, in a story of a brief but heartfelt love affair.
In her tale, the Mothman was feeling down and in need of some time away from his daily woes, so he decides to take a trip to Myrtle Beach where “all West Virginians go to relax.”
Having been misguided by his directions, he finds himself in an unknown location; however, he spots who he thinks is the lady of his dreams, the Jersey Devil.
With a few twists and turns, the poor Mothman ends up back in West Virginia telling his friends in Braxton County all about his adventure and how he is still looking for love. As friends always do, they provide him with the best advice, “You don’t have to be lonely...at MonstersOnly.com.”
McGinley's full tale is printed below:
‘A Mothman Tale’
As told by Suzy McGinley
It was a really nasty Spring at the TNT area up there in Mason County near the McClintic, and Mothman was just so depressed. It was just awful.
So as all good West Virginians, when he thinks of warmer climates, he thinks Myrtle Beach. So he enters the grand strands coordinates into his smart watch and heads to the beach. Unfortunately his smart watch was not very smart and instead of sending him southeast, it sent him northeast.
Mothman is flapping around and looking down for hours and hours and sees all these pine trees, miles and miles of pine trees with little backroads and pick-up trucks and burnt out trailers, looked a lot like Mason County only flatter.
He decides to land on this dilapidated doublewide to get his barrings, when he sees sitting on the other side painting it’s nails a lovely shade of electric blue, is something he had never seen before in his life. It had huge leathery wings, bright red eyes, poofed up hair, and “substantial beach front property,” yes, the Jersey Devil is a Jersey girl.
She looks over, slides toward him and says, “Hello gorgeous, let’s go some place fun.” Claw and claw, they flap off into the night and as they are flying over Lakehurst, New Jersey she tells him about an unfortunate experience she had there many, many years ago, where she was flying rather distracted when, “BAM” she runs right into this big thing and, “Poof” oh the humanity, the Hindenburg goes down in flames and her eyebrows don’t grow back for years.
Anyway, they get up to the roof top of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City where they spend a very “busy” night. When they are not canoodling, they are strafing drunks along the boardwalk, we won’t even discuss the break-in of the salt water taffy factory, other than the fact, sticky but happy, they were flying back to the pine barrens in New Jersey.
Our hero is in love, he is just smitten, she’s the one, even though she’s a Yankee girl, he thinks this is it. As they land in front of the doublewide, he gets down on one knee and takes her claw in his, and just as he’s about to pop the question, they hear a loud noise and when he looked up it was the biggest, dirtiest pick-up truck he had ever seen in his life, and coming from West Virginia, that’s pretty big. As it pulls up, through the dirt all you can see is “Troll Brothers Bridge Maintenance and Security.”
Out of the dirty, ugly pick-up truck comes the biggest, ugliest, dirtiest troll he has ever seen. The troll is screaming obscenities at the couple, just screaming as he comes toward them and just when Mothman’s about to say, “give me three steps mister,” the Jersey Devil whacks the troll up-side the head with a handy hubcap.
The Jersey Devil, bless her little devil heart, turns out she’s a married Jersey Devil. As she and her hubby are rolling and gouging in the mud, her hero takes himself and his broken heart home, flapping home to West Virginia just as fast as he can. He doesn’t stop until he’s well in the borders of West Virginia.
He sits down, perches to rest on the prominent formation of Seneca Rocks. Sick at heart and tired, he sleeps. He over sleeps til way past daylight and scares the absolute crap out of a bunch of Japanese tourists scaling Scenic Rocks, who scares the absolute crap out of him so he jumps off the formation and it falls down.
Now the park service would have you believe that the grenadier at Scenic Rocks fell from natural erosion, but there’s a bunch of people from Osaka, Japan that can tell you different.
Mothman flaps over to visit his friend in Flatwoods, over in Braxton County and tells his tale of woe. His friends say, “son, you’ve got to get in the twentieth century, you’re going about this girlfriend thing all wrong, you don’t have to be lonely with MonstersOnly.com.