During UFO Festival, we are not alone
If you see strange lights in the sky this weekend, it might just be visitors arriving for the 15th annual McMinnville UFO Festival.
The popular event is a mix of serious UFO study and high-spirited fun. It features lectures, music, a huge parade and numerous other activities, all designed to appeal to earthlings and aliens alike.
Why wouldn’t otherworldly visitors attend? After all, they’ve been spotted before in McMinnville.
On the evening of May 11, 1950, Evelyn and Paul Trent snapped a few photos of a disc-shaped object hovering over their farm near McMinnville. The photos were printed in the Telephone Register, a forerunner of the News-Register — it was the first time a legitimate news outlet had printed UFO pictures.
The Trents’ pictures quickly became famous around the world (and quite possibly beyond). Never disproved, it remains one of the signature occurrences studied by ufologists.
And 50 years later, the Trent Sighting inspired the UFO Festival -- McMenamins Hotel Oregon started the UFO conference in 2000, and the McMinnville Downtown Association added some lighthearted activities, including the parade.
This year, prominent UFO researcher Stanton Friedman will join in a discussion of the Trent Sighting at the UFO Festival’s kickoff, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15, in the McMinnville Community Center.
Friedman, a nuclear physicist, was one of the original civilian investigators of the reported UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. He is the co-author of “Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident.”
He and Tim Hills, McMenamins staff historian, will speak at the event in the McMinnville Community Center. Tickets to the presentation cost $20 at the door or $15 in advance through the website ufofest.com/.
Also Thursday, “Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis,” a live radio broadcast, will be presented in the Paragon Room at Hotel Oregon. The free event will start at 7 p.m.
Friedman and other ufologists who will be speaking at the festival will sit down for lunch with UFO enthusiasts on Friday, May 16. A limited number of tickets are available for $25. The lunch will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Mattie’s Room at the Hotel Oregon.
UFO film presentations and a discussion are scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday in the McMinnville Community Center. Clips from several films, including the not-yet-released film “Maury Island Incident” and the just-released “Mirage Men,” will be shown. Admission is $10.
In addition, a free screening of entries in this year’s UFO video contest is planned from 3 to 7 p.m. at 3rd St Pizza Co./Moonlight Theater.
The more light-hearted part of the festival, the McMinnville Downtown Association’s “Landing Party,” will run from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday at the US Bank Plaza. Vivid Curve and the Jake Blair Band will perform during the free event for all ages.
Friday night’s speaker is author/UFO researcher David Marler, an expert on triangular UFO phenomenon. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door for the 7 p.m. talk in the community center.
Also on Friday, there will be a repeat of “Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis” at 7 p.m. in the Paragon Room. In Hotel Oregon’s Cellar Bar, Kirby Swatosh & The Moon Rock Patrol will perform for the 21 & older set starting at 7 p.m. In addition, the Windshield Vipers will perform for all ages from 8 to 11 p.m. in Mattie’s Room.
On Saturday, May 17, James Clarkson and Kewaunee Lapseritis will speak at 10 a.m. In the community center. Clarkson, a retired police detective, is Washington State Director of MUFON. Lapseritis is an authority on Sasquatch phenomenon, particularly as it relates to extraterrestrial activity. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
A food, beer and gift tent will be open all day next to the Hotel Oregon. Downtown association activities also will be going on all day, and UFO videos will be screened at noon, 5 p.m. and 7 o’clock at 3rd Street Pizza.
The “UFO Abduction Dash,” a fun run, will take off from the US Bank Plaza at 1:15 p.m.; registration is at 12:45. Participants can wear extraterrestrial garb. Cost is $12, and prizes will be awarded. Proceeds will go to the McMinnville High School cross country team.
The popular UFO parade will begin at 2 p.m., moving west from Galloway to Cowls on Third Street. Look for all sorts of otherworldy entries, from spacecraft to visitors from other galaxies. Entries will gather at noon on the county parking lot behind the community center. Judging will be at 12:30.
The Garcia Birthday Band will play for a dance on Third Street in front of Hotel Oregon at 3 p.m. The dance is free to all ages.
Inside the hotel, Willamette Radio Workshop will perform “Escape & X-Minus One, Radio’s Greatest Sci-Fi Adventures,” at 3 p.m. The radio play also is free to all ages.
For the non-humans among us, an Alien Pet Costume contest will be held at 4 p.m. at Buchanan Cellers on Fifth Street. All ages and all species are welcome.
Popular overnight radio host George Noory will meet insomniacs and other fans at 4 o’clock in the community center. Admission is $50, which includes admission to the UFO Panel scheduled later that evening.
The panel will begin at 7 o’clock in the community center. In addition to Noory, host of “Coast to Coast AM,” it will feature Friedman, Marler, Clarkson and Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center. Admission is $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Kirby Swatosh & The Moon Rock Patrol will perform again at 7 o’clock Saturday in the Hotel Oregon’s Cellar Bar. In Mattie’s Room, the Alien Costume Ball featuring Orchestre L’Pow will start at 8 p.m. Both musical events are free.
Sunday morning, May 18, UFO fans can have breakfast with crop circle expert and author Peter Davenport. The event will start at 9:30 a.m. in the Hotel Oregon. Admission is $20 per person.
UFO Festival passes are avallable, in addition to individual admissions. The passes grant entry to all the events except the breakfast and the lunch. They cost $80 in advance.
For more information, check the McMenamins web page, at http://ufofest.com, or the MDA page at downtownmcminnville.com, or call the MDA at 503-472-3605.