Home News Local News UFO Festival plans include RV park at Cielo Grande

UFO Festival plans include RV park at Cielo Grande

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Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the city of Roswell, answers a question Tuesday afternoon from Jessica Hullett, director of video services for In Depth Events, while Taylor Hearne, videographer for In Depth, records the interview in a studio set up at the Holiday Inn Express, 3 Military Heights Drive. The video will be used as part of promotional material for July’s UFO Festival. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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Part of Cielo Grande Recreation Area could become a community-within-the-community as organizers of Roswell’s UFO Festival hope to attract the recreational vehicle crowd.

The city and In Depth Events are still working out the details on exactly how many RVs will be allowed on the old runway areas of what was once the city’s airport, but the festival’s website already has reservation packages listed for campsites. The reservations are for five days, July 1 to 5, and start at $300.

“We do anticipate in the hundreds of spaces available,” said Robert Chapman, co-founder of In Depth, the Texas-based company the city contracted to organize the festival.

Chapman and his business partner, Matt Spencer, are in town with their crew this week for meetings and recording promotional material for the festival.

The campsites will be grouped by the type of RV — Class A, Class B, and pull-behind trailers and fifth-wheels. There will also be separate spaces for schoolies — renovated buses — and vans.

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“The idea is everybody, especially in the schoolie- or van-life community, they want to show off their cool, retro schoolie,” Chapman said.

The campsites will generally be primitive — without water and electrical hookups — but those amenities will be available for an extra fee.

“We will have services available for potable water as well as septic, but they are not built into the event space,” Chapman said.

The campsites will be within walking distance of several events at Cielo Grande and the Recreation and Aquatic Center, such as the Intergalactic Cinema Experience, the Space Waves Electronic Pool Party and the July 4 Unexplained Event that will include closing ceremonies, live music and a laser show.

The RV park will also have its own “pop-up” events, Chapman said.

“We’re planning to have a stage in that area. We’re not exactly sure what the talent’s going to be yet. It may be self-curated. We do know we’re going to have some events that are very specific to the RV community,” Chapman said.

The city will see some benefit from the RV campground, as it will collect lodgers’ tax from each booking, Juanita Jennings, public information director for the city, said.

Jennings said the city believes it will see more visitors driving rather than flying to Roswell for the festival, so the Cielo Grande RV park is a welcome solution to a problem of where to put everyone. About 200 sites are available in the city’s RV parks, Jennings said.

“I just appreciate both of these guys coming up with another solution to have a better experience and more attractive festival,” she said of Chapman and Spencer.

Owners and managers of two local RV parks contacted by the Roswell Daily Record said the festival’s RV park did not concern them too much.

William Mang, owner of Wild Willy’s RV Park, 3600 W. Second St., said the UFO festival has not been a big draw. His business, even at that time of year, is people who come to Roswell for work or who are traveling through town.

“I’ve owned the park for five years and I only get a few calls” about the festival, he said. “I might get 10 calls and that’s it.”

Lori Jolley, manager at Town and Country RV and Mobile Home Park, 331 W. Brasher Road, said she expects the park will still fill up quickly during the festival.

“We have other people coming through too, not just for that, but just because it’s summer,” she said.

“It’s just a temporary setup, which I understand, because the hotels may not be able to accommodate as many people as they normally do,” she said.

Wednesday, Chapman and Spencer had meetings with local businesses and organizations as well as food truck vendors on details such as event schedules, road closures and permits and licenses. A crew from their business has also been recording interviews and video footage that will be used for promotional material and virtual events during the festival.

They set up a makeshift video studio in a meeting room at the Holiday Inn Express, 3 Military Heights Drive, for interviews with several city officials including Jennings, Tourism Director Stephanie Mervine, City Councilor Judy Stubbs and City Manager Joe Neeb about the festival and life in Roswell.

They plan to visit local businesses, museums and other locations as well.

“We’re trying to interview folks and find out what they like about Roswell, what they like about the UFO Festival, what it means to them,” Chapman said.

Jennings said so far the city is pleased with the company’s creativity in planning the festival, especially after last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.

“COVID gave us the opportunity to really think about how do we want this to be reenvisioned, especially citywide. We’re doing a lot of new things and some things are going to work and some things are not, but at least we can say we tried it and try something different next year,” she said.

Jennings said that while events will spread throughout the city, downtown will still be included.

“I think we still have some of those local businesses downtown that fear we’re not having anything downtown, but we are, and I think most of the people are pretty excited,” she said.

MainStreet Roswell, the former organizer of the festival, will have activities downtown dubbed AlienFest designed to get people into businesses. Opening ceremonies for the festival will be at DeBremond Stadium followed by the Abduction Parade. The Alien Chase 5K run will also start from the stadium and will feature a “food truck landing zone.”

Main Street will not be closed during the festival, Jennings said.

“Street closures will be managed by our city services. It’s around DeBremond and the convention center area,” Mervine said at Wednesday morning’s stakeholder meeting. “We’ve mapped all that out and we’ll be communicating with the public on what’s happening at that time. It’s a short timeframe for the parade.”

The parade will essentially circle DeBremond Stadium and parking lot, starting at the stadium’s northeast corner and traveling south on North Richardson to West Ninth Street, west to North Pennsylvania and back to West 11th, returning to its starting point.

“It should be a minimal impact on the residences,” Spencer said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.