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Meeting some visitors from a galaxy far, far away at the Roswell UFO Festival

What’s it like to attend the Roswell UFO Festival?

My experience attending the Roswell UFO Festival in July 2022, marking the 75th anniversary of the Roswell Incident.

Even though I’ve lived in New Mexico for over 20 years, I’ve never visited Roswell … until July 1st, 2022. What was the occasion? The annual Roswell UFO Festival. This year’s 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 then 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.

To help improve my ufology education, I decided to kickoff the UFO Festival by attending a lecture and Q&A at what was called the “Roswell Incident” portion of the UFO festival. The Roswell Incident featured a variety of lectures and Q&A sessions from experts on UFOs and aliens from Friday July 1st – Sunday, July 3rd. I decided to attend a lecture called “UFO Witnesses: The Latest Testimony and Where it Leaves Us With the Truth”, followed by a Q&A Panel. That sounded like a good way to get my feet wet on the subject.

Welcome to the UFO Festival 2022
Welcome to the UFO Festival 2022

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. Plus the sheer volume of reported incidents gives one pause. Are every one of those thousands of testimonies false?

Ben Hansen from the TV show "UFO Witness"
Ben Hansen from the TV show “UFO Witness”

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, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about. Regardless, the panel agreed that the most compelling evidence we have are the many testimonies from credible sources. I appreciated their perception of where things stand and I’m on board with that assessment.

Expert Panel at the Q&A Session: Ben Hansen, Melissa Tittl, Mike Bara, and Caroline Cory
Expert Panel at the Q&A Session: Ben Hansen, Melissa Tittl, Mike Bara, and Caroline Cory

Later, there was a question about aliens and Caroline Cory proceeded to describe her favorite types of aliens and the telepathic experiences that she has had with aliens. Now, that’s where you start to lose me. 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. And I think she’s right!

A photo with Melissa Tittl after the Q&A Session
A photo with Melissa Tittl after the Q&A Session

It was an informative afternoon at the Roswell Incident and it inspired me to learn more once I got back home. But, for now, I’ll plan to keep my day job.

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 … one of which I recognized!

Hanging out with Grogu (aka Baby Yoda)
Hanging out with Grogu (aka Baby Yoda)
This one certainly grabbed my attention
This one certainly grabbed my attention

Outside of the convention center, there were some food trucks and more vendors selling all kinds of stuff. 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”.

The Army Band on stage in the 98 degree heat
The Army Band on stage in the 98 degree heat
Kids having fun in the "Foam Zone"
Kids having fun in the “Foam Zone”
Some of the vendors outside of the Roswell Convention Center
Some of the vendors outside of the Roswell Convention Center

Next, I started to make my way towards the Courthouse where other Roswell 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 ended up buying a T-shirt there.

Roswell Incident mural on the wall of Invasion Station Alien Gift Store
Roswell Incident mural on the wall of Invasion Station Alien Gift Store
Some of my fellow shoppers at Invasion Station
Some of my fellow shoppers at Invasion Station
I noticed that this bird had a broken beak in front of another store, but I didn't stop to ask questions
I noticed that this bird had a broken beak in front of another store, but I didn’t stop to ask questions

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 decided to get some tacos instead. Next time.

Some interesting options to choose from at the food trucks ...
Some interesting options to choose from at the food trucks …
... but I ended up playin' it safe with some tacos
… but I ended up playin’ it safe with some tacos

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 tomorrow morning’s “Pet Costume Contest”. As you can imagine, this made for some top notch people watching and there were lots of clever costumes.

Making a new alien friend
Making a new alien friend
An alien catching some rays in front of the Courthouse
An alien catching some rays in front of the Courthouse
Two more aliens inside the Roswell Visitor Center
Two more aliens inside the Roswell Visitor Center
The Alien from the movie "Predator" seemed to be enjoying the UFO Festival ... at least I think that's a smile
The Alien from the movie “Predator” seemed to be enjoying the UFO Festival … at least I think that’s a smile
An alien passing the time with some people watching on the street
An alien passing the time with some people watching on the street
A friendly reminder of the house rules in front of the Courthouse
A friendly reminder of the house rules in front of the Courthouse
Unfortunately, I was too slow to help this person.  The alien on the skateboard was too fast for me.
Unfortunately, I was too slow to help this person. The alien on the skateboard was too fast for me.
A photo of the Courthouse, and another alien
A photo of the Courthouse, and another alien
One of the handy props available to enhance your photos
One of the handy props available to enhance your photos
Another new friend in Roswell.  She assured me that she was smiling for the photo despite holding a bat.
Another new friend in Roswell. She assured me that she was smiling for the photo despite holding a bat.
A few more tall aliens arrive at the scene
A few more tall aliens arrive at the scene
As the sun sets, some of the aliens really light up
As the sun sets, some of the aliens really light up
No rest for this stoic sign twirler
No rest for this stoic sign twirler

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. If Pink Floyd is not your thing, 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.

A one minute snippet of the drone display taken from the Planetarium

On Saturday, July 2nd, I was up early to catch the pet costume contest that started at 9am at the Courthouse. I figured that would be an entertaining way to start the day, and I was right! I had an opportunity to meet some of the eager and not so eager pet costume participants before their moment on stage.

Resigned to his fate to soon be on stage
Resigned to his fate to soon be on stage
Another entrant for the pet costume contest
A fun crew gets ready for the contest
A fun crew gets ready for the contest

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.

These visitors enjoy their front row seats for the parade
These visitors enjoy their front row seats in front of the Courthouse for the parade

And the parade officially begins!

A video snippet of the start of the parade

Participants ranged from the solo unicyclist ...
Participants ranged from the solo unicyclist …
To a larger group of dancers ...
To a larger group of dancers …
... and everything in between
… and everything in between

The one thing that everyone seemed to have in common is that they were having fun.

By noon on Saturday July 2nd, it was time for me to head back to Albuquerque as I had another commitment on Sunday morning. But as you can see from this UFO Festival schedule link, there were plenty of other activities to experience that weekend.

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.

Meeting some friends from a galaxy far, far, away.
Meeting some friends from a galaxy far, far, away.

Mark Aspelin, The New Mexico Travel Guy, 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.  Mark lives in the mountains outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which serves as a great home base for his New Mexico Travel Guy blog (www.newmexicotravelguy.com)

Mark Aspelin from New Mexico & Beyond