By Karl Klooster • Staff Writer • 

Oh, my stars!

Submitted photoAuthor and journalist Nick Pope researched UFOs for British Defense Ministry.
Submitted photo
Author and journalist Nick Pope researched UFOs for British Defense Ministry.
Submitted photoUFO findings of Emmy-winning TV producer Linda Moulton Howe were a major attraction at the 2012 fest.
Submitted photo
UFO findings of Emmy-winning TV producer Linda Moulton Howe were a major attraction at the 2012 fest.
Investigative reporter and TV anchor George Knapp will speak.
Investigative reporter and TV anchor George Knapp will speak.
Jim Sparks will describe his otherworldly experiences on Saturday.
Jim Sparks will describe his otherworldly experiences on Saturday.
Peter Davenport will emcee the UFO Festival speaker series.
Peter Davenport will emcee the UFO Festival speaker series.

The future is upon us. We just don’t know it. Aliens are in our midst. We just don’t know who or even what they are.

Scary thoughts. Questions without answers. What is real? What isn’t?

Humankind has yearned to discover the secrets of the universe since the first inquisitive caveman marveled at the phases of the moon and a night sky filled with stars.

Though we know light-years more today about what’s out there, these central questions remain unanswered: Are there other intelligent life forms? If so, where and what are they?

Scientists say, given the tens of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, there is a high probability that many solar systems feature planets with carbon-based physical environments. Thus, the existence of intelligent life of some kind somewhere in the universe — if not in our own Milky Way Galaxy, with its own millions of star systems — seems a virtual certainty.

But even then, we are making the assumption that all life is carbon-based. Dr. Carl Sagan was among those who have said there is no reason to doubt the possibility of other forms of life.

Under the right conditions, sentient beings, meaning aware and responsive, and even cognitive beings, meaning perceiving and knowledge-acquiring, could have evolved around other molecular foundations.

With all this fodder for speculation, it’s little wonder that we Homo sapiens sapiens (sic) obsess about the existence of extraterrestrials. The real marvel is that our own little Pacific Northwest city becomes action central for the ET craze every May.

The 14th annual UFO Festival, founded and sponsored by McMenamins Hotel Oregon, is slated to kick off Friday, May 17. And like the vast majority of festival fans, I most look forward to the costume parade, set for 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

It’s a spectacle of out-of-this-world, sci-fi fantasy fun that seems to grow in both participation and observation with each passing year. In fact, last year’s parade attendees overflowed Third Street sidewalks and curbsides to the point organizers had to extend the return route east on Fourth Street.

Additional spectators lined up in numbers approaching Third Street’s density in anticipation of seeing spaced-out beings and imaginative conveyances of uncertain origins parade by.

The parade is but one of the UFO Fest’s delights, however. On Friday, the McMinnville Downtown Association kicks things off with The Landing Party at 3 p.m. Also on tap are dancing, entertainment, a live radio broadcast and a movie.

The venue will be the Hotel Oregon food, beer and gift tent.

In addition to the parade, Saturday attendees can participate in a fun run, stroll by vendor booths, listen to more music, grab a bite at the McMenamin’s tent, wash it down with a beer, then finish off the evening at the Alien Costume Ball inside.

With all the free stuff to do, it may occur only to avidly interested UFO fans that there are three lectures and presentations well worth the modest outlay to attend. All three will be held at the McMinnville Community Center.

On Friday at 7 p.m., author, journalist, researcher and investigator Nick Pope will appear. He formerly ran the British Government’s UFO project in its Ministry of Defense, where he had access to classified files.

Pope lectures around the world. He has engaged in extensive media consultation, and is a frequent television and radio contributor.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, George Knapp and Jim Sparks will be teaming up to give a presentation on the facts of phenomena from the standpoint of a longtime journalist and a firsthand observer, respectively.

Knapp is an award-winning journalist whose impressive career includes 10 Emmys and two Peabody awards, in addition to the AP’s Mark Twain Award for News Writing and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting.

He is currently serving as an anchor and reporter for the CBS affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. He also writes a weekly column for a Las Vegas newspaper.

Sparks blames otherworldly experiences for costing him his job and his marriage, and causing his life to unravel as a result. He said it took all the courage he could muster to merely begin to function again.

Linda Moulton Howe, an avid UFO researcher, is an Emmy Award-winning TV producer, investigative reporter and author. She has won two-dozen reporting awards.

She focuses on direct engagement with the men and women at the forefront of science and environmental breakthroughs in regard to otherworldly phenomena.

She also seeks out firsthand eyewitnesses of what she calls “high strangeness” to gather more in-depth information related to the subject.

Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994, will be serving as emcee for the presentations. The Center records and documents sightings from around the world.

Davenport’s interest in UFOs began with a boyhood sighting in 1954 and extends to dramatic sightings in Baja, California, in 1990 and Washington State in 1992.

Whether you choose to believe what these people have to say, or merely opt to suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the moment, these presentations are well worth the price of admission.

Passes for all events during the full two days run $35. Individual presentations run $15 each.

To purchase tickets, go to

And laser in on this: A last minute free addition to the presentation agenda has just been announced.

On Saturday, May 18 at 12:30 p.m. the featured presenters — Moulton Howe, Pope, Knapp and Davenport — will form the panel for a special forum at the McMinnville Community Center.

Their topic of discussion will be the “Citizen Hearing on Disclosure” that took place in Washington, D.C. between April 29 and May 3, 2013.

At the hearing, 40 witnesses including members of the military, scientific and governmental communities from 10 nations gave testimony.

Five former members of the United States House of Representatives and one former member of the United States Senate heard them discuss evidence of “a possible extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.”

Moulton Howe, Pope and Knapp were among those who testified while Davenport did a TV taping of the proceedings for later airing.

This panel will present to the UFO Fest audience their opinions and perspectives about the hearings including newly disclosed information and how the hearings may — or may not — shape future discussion on the existence of extraterrestrials.

And that’s what I found out while WAY OUT and ABOUT — preparing myself for all the Fest-ivities that surround this weekend’s Alien Daze.

Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at kklooster or by phone at 503-687-1227.

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