Langley Mystery Weekend:
The case of “The Herd Shot Around the World”
— Created February 22, 2023 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Buckle up! There has been another murder in Langley, and it is up to amateur sleuths of all ages to figure out “whodunit.”
The 38th annual Langley Mystery Weekend takes place Saturday and Sunday, bringing thousands of people to the village by the sea to participate in solving the murder. Tickets are available online at visitlangley.com/store or can be purchased at Mystery Weekend headquarters, also known as the Langley Chamber of Commerce’s visitor information center, at 208 Anthes Ave. Tickets and clue maps are $15 for those age 11-64 or $12 for senior citizens, military and youth under age 10.
This year’s story is entitled “The Herd Shot Around the World.” It brings a cast of 23 characters and/or suspects together, all of whom will either help or hinder visiting detectives in their quest to determine the identity of the killer.
As the story goes, a group of Whidbey Island students in the Rocketeers Club developed a navigation program three years ago. But one of the high school seniors in the group takes all the credit for developing the system when he applies to Texas Agriculture and Rocketry University.
“He and a professor worked with the Agriculture Department, which was developing a miniature cattle/sheep cross breed, and developed a rocket to transport the miniature cattle to remote countries with little grazing land,” described Loretta Martin, with the Langley Chamber of Commerce, which puts on Mystery Weekend. “The rocket will use the Rocketeer Club’s navigation system, but a course correction in its flight must be made from a location in Langley.
“Two countries want the cattle, so they gather to bid on the herd and the course correction will send the miniature cattle, already in orbit, to the winning country,” she continued. “During the auction, a fight breaks out and the student who took credit for the navigation system is murdered.”
This is where all the visiting detectives come in. Ranger Chase Catchem, from Texas, is taking over the investigation this year for Detective I.B. Fuzz, who has eloped with Mayor C.Z. Cash and is unavailable to track down the killer this year. Catchem can use some help solving the mystery and is hopeful the flood of investigators from around the world can help him crack the case.
“About a quarter [of our sleuths are] islanders and three-quarters are from off-island,” Martin said. “Visitors playing the game have come from as far away as England, Japan and Australia.”
Part of the appeal of Mystery Weekend, according to Martin is the funny, creative story-telling that makes it a great activity for amateur detectives of all ages.
“It is a fun, family-oriented event,” she said. “The story is always full of silly situations and names to please the kids (and the young at heart), as well as plot lines complex enough to challenge adult brains.”
Mystery Weekend is also a good way to showcase all Langley and Whidbey Island have to offer. As detectives visit stores and locations around town, they experience the community for an extended period and get to see many Langley businesses. It’s a great way to draw visitors to Whidbey Island in the shoulder season. Businesses and other organizations, such as Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, pull out all the stops to host events that will appeal to people when they’re not trying to solve the mystery.
“Over the years, we have collaborated with WICA and other partners to expand their reach, and ours,” Martin acknowledged.
“We used to always do a murder mystery in February, Agatha Christie mostly,” said WICA Artistic Executive Director, Deana Duncan. WICA’s production of “The Woman in Black” coincides with Langley Mystery Weekend this year, and there will be evening performances Thursday through Saturday.
“It’s been a long time and we were due to ‘coordinate’ with the city and the chamber again,” Duncan continued. “It’s been great to work on co-marketing efforts and really think about how to create a community-wide event.”
WICA will also be hosting a “clue room” in Zech Hall during the Murder Mystery weekend.
“Regardless of whether people have a ticket to the play, they can come up for a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie and sit somewhere warm to ‘sleuth’ through all their clues,” Duncan said, adding there is more information on the website, wicaonline.org.
Solutions/guesses to the mystery must be turned in at mystery headquarters by 4 p.m. Sunday. Those who have solved the mystery correctly on their official ballot will be entered into a grand prize drawing. Those who participated but didn’t solve the case correctly, will be entered into a different prize drawing. The killer will be revealed Sunday at 5 p.m. at the pole barn at Whidbey Island Fairgrounds or on the visitlangley.com website at 8 p.m.
No matter what visitors to the island choose to do, solving the mystery of “The Herd Shot Around the World” should be an experience full of fun.
“Langley Mystery Weekend is the longest running event of its type in the U.S.,” said Martin. “It is funny and challenging and located in a beautiful but small historic town, so the clues are pretty easy to collect, and the town is full of unique shops, great restaurants, and art on every corner.”