Big Al and Little Al welcome visitors to the 2012 Roswell UFO Festival, Friday. Mark Wilson Photo
The 2012 Galaxy Fest kicked off Friday at the International UFO Museum, welcoming fans from all over the world to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Roswell Incident. With celebrity guests, authors, researchers, live music and a host of vendors, the festival delivered rare treats in education and entertainment for all ages.
Daniel Kitchen, a financial adviser from Los Angeles, said he arrived in town Thursday night, his first trip to the area. He said his motivation for traveling all the way to Roswell was for the unique opportunity to explore the unknown.
“If (UFOs) were a subject that could be answered definitively, we probably wouldn’t be here,” Kitchen said. “I think the wide range of debate is what makes it really interesting.”
Early activities allowed fans a chance to visit with actress Denise Crosby, best known for her role as Lt. Tasha Yar on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Crosby, whose appearance at Galaxy Fest also represents her first trip to Roswell, said she has been interested in UFOs and other unexplained phenomena since she was a little girl.
“How could you not be intrigued and fascinated? I personally look forward to listening to the speakers,” Crosby said. “… I think we’ve all taken a glance up at the night sky and hoped to see what we could, to have some sort of encounter. … It’s hard for me to imagine that this is the only life in the universe. I’m just not that narcissistic! That would be kind of tragic, actually.”
Crosby, producer and narrator of the acclaimed documentary Trekkies, said “Star Trek: The Next Generation” remains popular because it offers viewers a rare vision in science fiction. “It was a pretty extraordinary series. … I had no idea it would live this long and be this prominent in people’s lives.
“… (Star Trek creator) Gene Roddenberry had a very unique vision of what the future would be. He tapped into a kind of a feeling that we would be better in the future, and not a lot of science fiction portrayed that. (Other science fiction) was pretty bleak and dismal: end of the world scenarios, and these very dystopian societies, but Star Trek was the opposite of that. Star Trek sort of dictated that we would not only survive the future and continue to flourish, but we would actually learn and improve ourselves.”
Of her first visit to Roswell, Crosby said she has always been intrigued by the culture and history of the city. “It’s a legendary place.
Historically, so much about (the Roswell Incident) has been written and described, so I think everybody has this curiosity about Roswell. … This of course is also my first visit to the museum, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot.”
UFO discussions at the museum featured researchers like investigative author Don Schmitt, who has participated in festivals in Roswell since the very first UFO Festival. He said the popularity of UFO events in Roswell benefit believers and non-believers alike.
“When you think of the number of people and the number of researchers from all over the world who have come to Roswell to participate in this grand event, it’s a tremendous tribute not only to the memory of those who were actually involved back in 1947, but speaks to the ongoing interest of the subject matter itself,” Schmitt said, “that we’re still searching, that we’re still looking for that elusive answer to what actually did happen. And the fact that people continue to come here from all over the world — I think it’s tremendous for the people of Roswell.
They need to understand that for all the business, for the motels, the restaurants, the stores, all of it benefits the people, no matter what one believes about the subject matter. This has become a major tourist attraction.”
Jack Swickard, president of the UFO Museum’s board of directors, said the number of website hits the museum has received recently may provide an indication for how successful Galaxy Fest will be. “We’re running now between 25,000 and 30,000 hits per day, which indicates to us a lot of interest. And that translates into a lot of folks coming to Roswell. … We hope people just really have a good time. That’s the main purpose of the museum, not to promote one side or another, but to present the information, and let people make up their own minds.”
Julie Schuster, UFO Museum director, commented, “You can either believe or not believe, but come in with an open mind and just say, ‘Maybe.’ That’s all we ask for.”
Author Freddy Silva, whose book Secrets in the Fields remains the best-selling book on the subject of crop circles, led a discussion Friday on sacred sites, human evolution and crop circles. He said that as a researcher, he embraces scrutiny, and that all inquiries are inherently positive.
“The point is that (scrutiny) opens up a debate,” Silva said. “… It’s huge because you have a chance here where people can actually question the researchers themselves. … You have to question the information; that’s how we reach a better idea of how good the information is — so we don’t chase our own tails. So it’s a good way for the public to get together with people who do this for a living, who stake their reputations and their lives on it.”
Galaxy Fest continues through Monday, with several more discussions, shows, vendors, live music and activities for children. Actor Ray Wise, originally booked as a celebrity guest, is unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Don’t forget that the UFO Festival’s lecture series and laser light shows continue through Sunday at the Roswell Museum & Art Center. A detailed schedule can be picked up at RMAC.
The Alien Chase kicks off today’s UFO Festival activities at 7 a.m. at the Civic Center. The Alien Costume Contest for pets takes place today on the north lawn of the Civic Center at 10 a.m., and for humans will be held inside the Civic Center at 3 p.m. The Alien Parade starts at 6 p.m., on the south side of the Civic Center and continuing to Third Street.