Alien chases and crawls, UFO lectures, human and pet costume contests – everything you need to know about this quirky and fun event
Below is an expanded version of the “Landing in Roswell for the Annual UFO Festival” article that was published in the March 2023 issue of the online travel magazine called Perceptive Travel. Thank you to Perceptive Travel for publishing it!
Table of Contents
Welcome to the Roswell UFO Festival!
Even though I’ve lived in New Mexico for over 20 years, I’d never visited the “UFO Capital of the World” of Roswell until this past year. What was the occasion? The annual Roswell UFO Festival.
The 2022 UFO Festival happened to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the “Roswell Incident”. For those not well versed in UFO lore, the “Roswell Incident” refers to when the Roswell Army issued a press release on July 8, 1947, stating that it had recovered a “flying disc”. The Army quickly retracted the statement, saying the crashed object was a conventional weather balloon. But many people didn’t buy that retraction, believing it was just a government cover-up for the truth. And the Roswell Incident was born.
I’ve never paid much attention to UFO theories, and my personal experiences with aliens and UFOs are easy to count. I’ve had approximately zero encounters in my life. I say “approximately,” as I’ve met some mighty strange beings over the years, so that must count for something. All that to say, I drove out to Roswell with a healthy dose of skepticism. On the other hand, I’m of the opinion that we know very little about the universe, so I’m open to the idea that aliens and UFOs exist. But that’s about as much thought as I’ve put into the topic over the years.
A Crash Course in Ufology
To help improve my “ufology” education, I decided to kickoff the UFO Festival by attending a lecture and Q&A session at the “Roswell Incident” portion of the UFO Festival. The Roswell Incident featured three days of lectures and interactive sessions with experts on the topic of UFOs and aliens. To get my feet wet, I signed up to attend a lecture and Q&A session called “UFO Witnesses: The Latest Testimony and Where it Leaves Us With the Truth”. I figured it would be a good way to quickly get up to speed on what we know and don’t know about UFOs and aliens.
The speaker was Ben Hansen. Ben films TV shows and documentaries such as UFO Witness, where he interviews people with credible testimonies about UFOs and aliens. In his presentation, Ben shared some of the most compelling testimonies that seemed legit to him. He also pointed out that the sheer volume of reported incidents is enough to give one pause. Are every one of those thousands of testimonies false?
The Q&A portion featured 4 experts: Mike Bara, Melissa Tittl, Ben Hansen, and Caroline Cory. I decided to ask the panel a question along the lines of … “Over the years we’ve made significant improvements in photo and video technologies and many more people carry smart phones. Have these technologies yielded a corresponding increase in credible sightings over the years?”
Each panel member took a turn to address my question. The short answer is that there still isn’t a smoking gun. Smartphones have captured more images, but the images are usually blurry and out of focus given the distance of the objects. The most credible image we have is probably the Tic Tac UFO video that was captured by a Navy fighter jet. Google “Tic Tac UFO Video” and you’ll find it. Regardless, the panel agreed that the most compelling evidence we have are the volume of testimonies from credible sources, people with nothing to gain from making up a fictitious story. I appreciated their honest assessment of where things stand and found myself nodding my head in agreement.
Later, there was a question about aliens and Caroline Cory proceeded to describe her favorite types of aliens and the telepathic experiences she has had with aliens. My affirming head nods came to an abrupt halt. I can’t dispute her experience, but that goes way beyond where my mind is today. Granted that’s not saying much since I’m new a newbie to all of this. Caroline also shared some helpful insights gained from her efforts to attempt to capture UFOs on film using the latest and greatest technology; and she directed a documentary film about that effort that’s called A Tear in the Sky.
After the Q&A, I had a conversation with Melissa Tittl, co-star of Season 2 of the UFO Witness series. She’s been developing and producing films and TV shows, such as Ancient Aliens, for over a decade. She seemed down to earth and she half-jokingly warned me that the more I learn, the more I’ll get hooked and I’ll eventually find that I’m all in. I laughed and agreed that stranger things have happened.
The Galaxy Fair at the Convention Center
After the lecture and Q&A, I walked around the vendor displays inside the Roswell Convention Center to check out what they were selling. As a bonus, there were a few aliens walking around who were eager to pose for photos, one of which I recognized!
Outside of the convention center, there were some food trucks and more vendors selling all kinds of alien and UFO paraphernalia. There was also a stage with live music. The temperature was in the high 90s, so it must have been very toasty for the bands. As usual, kids knew how to deal with the hot weather. They were playing in the “Foam Zone.”
Invasion Station Alien Gift Store
Next, I started to make my way towards the Roswell Courthouse where other UFO Festival activities were taking place. I couldn’t resist stepping inside some of the quirky shops along the way. I also came across an interesting mural on the wall of the Invasion Station Alien Gift Store. The owner’s grandfather (Dan Dwyer) was a Lieutenant in the Roswell Fire Department and he happened to be one of the firemen that responded to the “Roswell Incident” crash site back in 1947. The store had lots of fun alien items, and I couldn’t resist buying a T-shirt.
Aliens Storm the Courthouse Lawn
At the Roswell Courthouse, there was a DJ and more vendors and food trucks. Some of the food trucks were selling Alien donut burgers (a burger that uses donuts as the bun) and alien fingers (fried pickles). It was tempting, but I ended up playing it safe with some tacos instead.
As I explored the area, I had the opportunity to meet quite a few aliens, since it was nearing time for the Alien costume contest. It’s called the “People Costume Contest”, not to be confused with the next morning’s “Pet Costume Contest”. As you can imagine, the clever costumes made for some top-notch people-watching.
Here are a few photos of new friends I met at the Courthouse area of the UFO Festival
Laser Light Show and 100 Drones
In the evening (9:00 pm), I had tickets to see a laser light show at the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium featuring Pink Floyd’s classic album, Dark Side of the Moon. It was a nice blast from the past as I was a major Pink Floyd fan in my college days and went to see them in concert a few times. The Planetarium had showings all weekend that included Queen, Grateful Dead, U2, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles.
After the laser light show, I exited the planetarium and heard a strange, loud buzzing sound in the air. UFOs? Nope. It was the “Sky Elements Drone Light Show“, featuring over 100 drones flying in a synchronized display over the Convention Center. It was an impressive way to end the evening.
Alien Pets and Close Encounters of the Roswell Kind
On Saturday, July 2nd, I was up early to catch the pet costume contest that started at 9 a.m. at the Courthouse. I had an opportunity to meet some of the eager and not-so-eager pet costume participants before their moment on stage.
2022 MainStreet Roswell Parade
After the pet costume contest, it was time for the “2022 MainStreet Roswell Parade: Close Encounters of the Roswell Kind” that started at 9:30am. Participants ranged from a solo unicyclist to large groups of alien dancers, and everything in between.
The one thing that everyone seemed to have in common is that they were having fun.
And the parade officially begins!
A video snippet of the start of the parade
By noon on Saturday July 2nd, it was time for me to head back to Albuquerque for another commitment.
When I asked one of the locals what they like most about living in Roswell, they responded: “This festival!” And I can see why. It’s a fun event and I plan to return. After all, I Believe.
If You Go
Check the UFO Festival schedule link for plenty of other activities to experience at the end of June and first few days of July including the Alien Chase 5K Walk/Run, the Alien Crawl party bus, and a UFO Night SkyWatch. While this was a big anniversary affair, most of the events should return in subsequent years.
Thought for the Week
For this week’s edition of the “Thought for the Week”, I predictably went with an alien theme. Here’s a quote from Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist and author who passed away in 2018. He had a brilliant mind and I must not, as much of what he wrote went over my head when I tried to read his books. But here’s a sentiment from Stephen Hawking that I can understand.
“I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.”
— Stephen Hawking
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
Mark (The New Mexico Travel Guy)
Mark Aspelin, The New Mexico Travel Guy (www.newmexicotravelguy.com), is a travel writer and author of two books who has enjoyed a wide variety of adventures in his travels to over 100 countries and all 50 U.S. States. His current project involves visiting EVERY town in his home state of New Mexico (there’s over 500 towns) and writing a story about each one. When not traveling, Mark lives as a recluse in the mountains outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.