Some cities are famous for sensational Gothic architecture, some are famed for their ancient Roman remains, and some are world renowned for providing inspiration for many legendary artists.
The city of Roswell, however, is famous for something entirely different – an alleged sighting of an extra-terrestrial spacecraft 65 years ago.
In July 1947, the Roswell Daily Record ran an interesting front page story about a mysterious object that had crashed on a ranch 30 miles north of Roswell. The intriguing and no doubt “newspaper selling” angle of the story was based on claims made by the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) that the object that crashed was a “flying disc”.
According to a statement published on PR Newswire by the City of Roswell, the day following the Roswell Daily Record report, the RAAF hastily altered its statement, claiming that instead of being a “flying disc” the object was in fact just a weather balloon. (2)
The rapid change of statement from the mysterious object being an exciting and fascinating “flying disc” one day, to something as mundane and uninteresting as a weather balloon the next day, naturally sparked controversy. However, the initial controversy died out quickly, and didn’t revive until nearly three decades later.
Lots of Theories, No Answers
In the late 1970s, a series of books and documentaries revived conspiracy theories that an alien landing had taken place,. Since those publications, the incident has been the subject of intense controversy, with various theories being written about the true nature of the object that crashed.
While the United States Armed Forces maintains that what was recovered from the ‘crash’ was an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon belonging to a classified Armed Forces experiment named ‘Mogul’, many UFO advocators maintain that an alien spacecraft was discovered, and that the craft’s occupants were captured.
The general consensus among “believers” is that the military then engaged in a vast ‘cover up’. (1)
Whatever really happened on July 8, 1947 on the Roswell Army Air Field may remain a mystery, but what is less ambiguous is that the incident has riveted Roswell into global fame, with the city now being synonymous with UFOs. It has become a popular cultural marvel.
Much of Roswell’s notoriety and ability to remain a popular cultural phenomenon is due to the city’s UFO Festival that has been running for the last 65 years!
The Roswell UFO Festival is a celebration of what the City of Roswell cites on the official UFO Festival website of, “…one of the most debated incidents in history’. (3)
While it is questionable and certainly debatable whether the RAAF and its mysterious crashed object of 1947 is ‘one of the most debatable incidents in history’, the popularity and success of the festival remains much less debatable, and is proof that people cannot seem to resist a good old supernatural UFO mystery.
Old Fashioned Family Fun With Aliens
This three-day family-orientated festival features a long list of events, including ‘alien chases’, costume contests, a ‘planetarium’, a ‘light parade’, and a ‘UFO art show’.
The festival is organised by collaboration between the City of Roswell, the Roswell Runners Club, Roswell Parks and Recreation, Roswell Museum and Art Centre and Mainstreet Roswell, and also includes several multimedia presentations about UFO’s and other paranormal topics.
For example, this year the UFO show features Dr. Donald Burleson presenting. Dr. Burleson lives in Roswell. Dr. Burleson is the State Director of Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and once held a top secret security clearance in U.S. Air Force Intelligence. (4)
It could be argued that the fact that these presentations are made by some of the leading names in ‘paranormal’ issues gives the Roswell UFO Festival a greater sense of ‘seriousness’, rather than merely being a fantastical family event.
By the same token, it could be argued that by speaking at such a popular and heavily-attended event, savvy self-promoters such as the State Director of Mutual UFO Network can achieve greater recognition for his own cause.
Such a popular and long-standing summer festival undoubtedly benefits the tourism industry in Roswell and will pump money in to the town, it is interesting to note that admission to the UFO festival itself is free.
The prospect of not paying an entrance fee for a festival is much more attractive to potential visitors than having to pay. That fact alone could go a long way in explaining the longevity of the event, which started in 1996.
UFO Festival Boosts Roswell Tourism
Regardless of the fact that visitors do not have to pay an entrance fee, the UFO festival undoubtedly generates tourism and money, as the festival’s advertisers shrewdly advertised on a press statement about the event that was released prior to the festival on PR Newswire:
“…lodging options are still available, including many hotels within a two mile radius of the event, as well as shaded recreational Vehicle Camp Ground.” (5)
It does seem almost uncanny that once a place becomes associated with UFOs and aliens, a large majority of ‘sightings’ occur around such sites. This could certainly be said about Roswell, the ‘UFO capital of the world’, where earlier this year it was reported that a possible UFO had landed at an unknown location in New Mexico.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, footage of a ‘flying saucer’ approaching and then landing at an industrial estate, supposedly near to the infamous Roswell 1947 UFO landing site, was captured by a passenger in a car driving on the motorway. The footage took the Internet by storm since the footage was released on YouTube. (6)
The footage quickly provoked online conspiracy theories, claiming that the incident was merely an elaborate hoax. The biggest clue that the UFO sighting was in fact a hoax was that fact that the terrain the UFO could be seen hovering over looks distinctly northern European, a world apart from the scorched “desertscape” of New Mexico!
Whether they are in a newspaper, online, the subject of a film or in the city of Roswell, stories of UFOs and aliens reaching planet Earth never fail to rouse the imagination – hence the six-decade running Roswell UFO myth.
References & Image Credits:
(2)(5) PR Newswire
(3) UFO Festival, Roswell
(4) Aspe Symposium
(6) Daily Mail