From June 29th through July 1, Roswell, New Mexico will be putting on one of its largest tourist attractions – the Roswell UFO Festival, otherwise known as “Galaxy Fest”.
Earlier this week, Gabrielle posted an article about the event, stating that ultimately it served to bring tourist dollars into Roswell. I wondered just how much money the area has vested in the tale of crashed alien ships over 60 years ago? What I discovered was somewhat disturbing.
The City of Roswell and its Parks and Recreation Department invest a great deal of energy and resources putting on the festival each year, with the hopes that the multitudes of UFO enthusiasts from around the world will attend – bringing in about 10,000 people from countries around the entire world (1).
According to the Journal of Business & Economics Research, the Roswell UFO festival is an important part of Roswell’s tourism income, and because of that, the City of Roswell, “attracts tourist[s] to Roswell via an alien-themed marketing effort by the city and business community.”
The Roswell event brings approximately $1.25 million into the city coffers. If that isn’t enough motivation to prolong the Roswell myth, nothing is.
Roswell UFO Myth is Roswell’s Only Tourism Draw
According to the Journal of Business & Economics Research, Roswell has nothing else that would draw in tourists, so the importance of the UFO myth and the festival to the city leaders can’t be understated.
“Few tourists would travel to Roswell if not for the curiosity of association with aliens. During the UFO Festival and throughout the rest of the year, Roswell is a brief stopping point for a person traveling in the region because the city is branded as an extraterrestrial hot spot. Without the alien association, Roswell would be no different than several other small to mid-sized cities in the southwest.” (2)
There are other festivals and events, but nothing at all on this sort of scale.
City and State leaders certainly promote the myth as well as the festival itself. In July, 2004 Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico took a stand alongside Dr. Steven Greer’s UFO Disclosure movement, telling reporters, “It would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows. (3)”
Before the 2007 festival, Roswell Mayor Sam LaGrone told the Roswell Daily Record, “This year, we want the festival to be all-inclusive. We invite everyone with an interest in UFOs, aliens and outer space to be a part of the festival as a presenter, a guest, or both.”
In 1997, Roswell Mayor Thomas Jennings told the NY Daily News that people who believe in UFO’s and visit Roswell are totally normal and are all-American types that love apple pie and UFOs. What could be more American than aliens?
“Roswell Mayor Thomas Jennings insists there’s nothing at all odd about the legions of UFO devotees who have already started arriving for the July 1-6 shindig. ‘These people aren’t weird. These people are family people. These people are all-American: apple pie and UFOs, man,’ he said. For Roswell’s 50,000 residents, little green men have translated into big green bills. Families making the trip specially to see Saucer City, U.S.A., bring in about $5 million a year, according to Forbes magazine.”(4)
$5 million represents not only what the city makes from the event, but the overall revenue for all businesses and services during the UFO Festival. It isn’t chump change.
Countless Holes in the Roswell UFO Myth
The Roswell UFO debate is seemingly endless. Despite the fact that there has never been conclusive evidence of anything alien being involved with events during the summer of 1947, many millions of people continue to believe that the crash was an alien craft.
The sign that there is something wrong with the entire Roswell UFO myth is that Roswell, NM and the news event that took place in July of 1947 remained nothing more than a footnote in history, until Ufologist Stanton Friedman joined up with writer Charles Berlitz to create an entire conspiracy theory surrounding the event.
Friedman and Berlitz as well as William Moore started piecing together their conspiracy by interviewing people 30 years after the event, eventually producing a book describing the theory they came up with – that the crashed object was actually an alien ship that had crashed just northwest of Roswell.
The 1980 book was “The Roswell Incident”, and it launched what would become one of the most pervasive and far-reaching conspiracy theory-fueled cottage industries. Roswellians have Moore, Berlitz and Friedman to thank for their newfound boost in tourism.
Readers believed the stories, and trusted the interviews based on 30-year-old memories. Yet there are holes all throughout the conspiracy theory.
–> Roswellian believers claimed that Jesse Marcel, the prime witness in the story, had been a pilot since 1928. Military, FAA and other documentation doesn’t support the claim at all – Marcel had no piloting experience. (6) Additionally, while Marcel claimed to have a bachelor’s degree in physics from GWU and attended LSU, NYU and OSU. LSU and GWU have no records of his attendance at all. (7)
–> Other theories abound. In 2011, author Annie Jacobsen published Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, in which she claims that Joseph Stalin and Nazi scientist Josef Mengele actually concocted a plan to surgically alter children and send them in a remote-controlled craft to crash in the U.S. and “frighten Americans.” (8)
–> In the Kevin Randle/Donald Schmitt book, The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell, witness Frank Kaufman reports manning a radar set at White Sands, tracking a UFO in the area, and then monitoring the UFO later on radar at the Roswell Army Airbase. Unfortunately, FOIA documents reveal that there were no radars at Roswell Army Air Force Base, and that the White Sands radar, in June of 1947, was undergoing constant modification and testing and not used for around-the-clock surveillance. (9)
Ready to debate whether these are truly “holes” in the Roswell myth? Don’t bother – these represent the tip of the iceburg of problems that have been debated into the ground for decades. For every problem you find, someone else will come up with a new witness and new “proof”. However, at the end of each debate, all that usually remain are more questions than answers.
It is an endless myth that will never have a conclusion, for two reasons. Number one, because when a story is made up of so much imagined connections and conclusions, and then adopted and quoted as “fact” by so many, the reality of the story is all too often buried too deep under years of garbage.
The second reason is that there are far too many that depend on the fact that the myth lives on, because so long as the Roswell myth continues, books will continue to sell, and tourists will continue visiting the legendary city of Roswell year after year, pumping those precious tourist dollars into the local community.
References & Image Credits:
(1) (2) Journal of Business & Economics Research
(4) NY Daily News
(5) Physics Department – Southern Methodist University
(8) Huffington Post