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Leopard Gecko and Pug tie for first place in Exeter UFO Festival Alien Pet Contest

Natalia Jacuch of Newington, N.H., holds Alien Pet Costume Contest grand prize winner Sneaky.
Natalia Jacuch of Newington, N.H., holds Alien Pet Costume Contest grand prize winner Sneaky.
Gina Carbone

Turns out geckos don't just sell insurance. They also win alien pet costume contests.

Sneaky the leopard gecko of Newington, New Hampshire, tied for first place with Trixie the pug of Stratham, N.H. in the Exeter UFO Festival's first Alien Pet Costume Contest, held Saturday, Sept. 4 in Exeter, N.H.

Although both winners received first-place ribbons, Sneaky was awarded the grand prize of a $25 gift card to Petco.

Sneaky became something of a celebrity at the second annual Exeter UFO Festival. His young owner, Natalia Jacuch, dressed him in pink antennas and housed him in a "mother ship" made of tin foil. Natalia herself also dressed for the occasion.

Right after the competition ended, Trixie, the adorable pug owned by Kristen McLaughlin, took off his tin foil antennas and little alien eyes to resume normal pug life.

Second place in the Alien Pet Costume Contest was awarded to shepherd mix Maisey, owned by Linnea Menin of Newburyport, Mass. Maisey had fake arms hanging off her sides and some Medusa snakes on her backside — borrowed from her owner's Halloween costume.

Third place went to a Cairn terrier named Wriedt of Exeter, whose owner Fran Wriedt draped him in a green cape and tassels

Honorable mention went to a tuxedo-clad Lhasa apso named Mikey, owned by Kelly Meek of Exeter.

The UFO Festival was held all day on Sept. 4 in downtown Exeter. Despite the fear of Hurricane Earl after-effects, the day was clear and breezy, with temperatures in the mid-80s.

Organizers said the turnout was well above last year's inaugural festival.

Events — all free of charge — included a Children's ET Costume Contest, lectures by an esteemed panel of experts, and an Earthlings and Aliens Ball. Downtown merchants got into the spirit by putting out tables to sell books or have kids create alien jewelry. Buckets of chalk were set up in various spots around town for children to draw UFOs and aliens on the sidewalks.

A similar Alien Pet Costume Contest was held in July at the famed UFO hotspot Roswell, New Mexico, with a dog, a cat and a guinea pig taking the top three spots.

For more information on the festival, pick up the Seacoast Sunday newspaper or visit

Visit the festival's official site,, for the full list of events.

See the slideshow below for a few photos from the festival.


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