Record Staff Writer
Alien believers, cohorts, fanatics and skeptics alike have now returned to their respective homelands, leaving behind a successful commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the 1947 incident, one of the most debated events in history.
This year, attendees soaked up the UFO madness through two simultaneous festivals: The UFO Festival Roswell 2012, sponsored by the city and MainStreet Roswell, and the 2012 Galaxy Fest, sponsored by the International UFO Museum & Research Center.
As for an economic indicator of this year’s success, the dual festivals put a significant number of heads in beds, with five of the city’s hotels sold out of rooms on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Many of the other hotels had fewer than 10 rooms available on Friday and Saturday.
The only complaint echoed over the weekend was about the stifling heat.
On Monday, the UFO museum hosted the final stretch of its four-day Galaxy Fest celebration. The museum brought in actress Denise Crosby, best known for her role as Lt. Tasha Yar on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” as its celebrity guest for the weekend. “She was so kind and gracious, ‘take my picture. I’ll stand with you all day,’ very approachable and she loved the city,” said Mark Briscoe, interim director for the UFO museum. “She wants to come back about four days early (next year) just so she can go all over the city and go to the other museums. She’s going to bring her family.”
Benjamin Hicks, 10, of Albuquerque, who arrived to Roswell on Monday, said “I like it how they’ve tried to make all the things for younger children to understand, and see for themselves.” Hicks said he was learning a lot, as he didn’t know much about aliens before his visit to the museum.
Lectures continued Monday at the museum, featuring researchers and authors with an array of backgrounds and interest relating to the phenomena.
Pennsylvania resident Doreen Carey, whose husband Tom, author of the book “Witness to Roswell,” has come to the festival every year, said, “The people have been very enthusiastic. We’ve been asking people what they’ve thought about the event and they just love the museum, the kids are thrilled with this exhibit.”
Tom and co-author Don Schmitt talked in-depth about deathbed confessions, those who didn’t speak about the Roswell incident until they were in their final moments, and generals who were involved in the incident. Carey said their talks were very well attended.
“Ninety-eight percent of the people came to talk to the researchers and the authors and the experts. That’s what brings them,” Briscoe said.
A former police officer and a licensed private investigator in the state of Texas, Derrel Sims, whose work is “in the physical evidence of the alleged human-alien contact,” gave six presentations throughout the Galaxy Fest. He said his first presentation was so packed that he had to turn people away.
Sims has spoken in countries all over the world. In addition to the UFO museum, his work is featured in museums in Japan and Slovakia. Sims is the founder of Saber Enterprises, an organization dedicated to the research of hard, physical evidence of human-alien interactions. Saber has a medical/scientific team, which provides him with expertise to explore such individual cases. The organization has performed 24 surgeries thus far on alleged abductees. All of the surgeries have been free to the patient, and were paid for by either Sims or medical professionals who have volunteered their help.
“The most interesting has been people walking up here, looking around to make sure no one’s around, and they start telling me about all the medical evidence,” Sims said.
While attendance was slightly down from last year, the UFO museum experienced a solid flow of visitors from all over the world. “I think it’s due to the heat, the fires and people are watching their money,” Briscoe said, reasoning why the numbers were lower than in the past. On Thursday, 850 individuals visited the museum, with 1,530 visitors on Saturday and 1,162 on Sunday. Briscoe said he expected the total number of visitors on Monday to reach 1,000.
An employee of the museum’s gift shop said sales throughout the festival have been good, with Saturday being the busiest day. The most popular item was the shop’s 72-inch inflatable alien.
“We had a lot of people from the city’s festival who came over here and vice versa. That was great. I know they sent people down here so I really appreciate what everyone has done,” Briscoe said.
The UFO Festival Roswell 2012 wrapped up on Sunday, following Saturday’s successful costume and pet contests, which featured 46 registrants for the alien human contest and 14 pets, respectively.
Sienna Fleming, of Roswell, and Paloma Dooley, of New York, captured first place in Adult Most Creative, and went on to capture first overall.
“(They) were really phenomenal—truly handmade,” said Laurie Rufe, director of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, of the duo’s costumes, which were made out of glass pieces from three full-length mirrors.
The Goddard Planetarium continued to feature a day’s worth of dynamic light shows Sunday, closing with a laser Metallica show. The lecture series at the RMAC ended with four diverse talks: Foster Ranch Debris Field; Before the UFOs Landed: A History of Roswell; Underground Bases and Tunnels; and UFO Secrecy and the Fall of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Director of MainStreet Roswell Dusty Huckabee said the UFO festival was a huge success. “There were huge crowds at the Civic Center. When they came out of there we were able to draw them in to the courthouse lawn. Our vendors all did really well,” he said.