Home News Local News City begins planning for 2022 UFO Festival

City begins planning for 2022 UFO Festival

Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb, center, talks with community members and business people about ideas for the 2022 UFO Festival during a meeting Wednesday evening at the Roswell Convention Center, 912 N. Main St., to begin the planning for the festival. (Juno Ogle Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Next year’s UFO Festival will be less confusing and home-grown, city leaders told a crowd of more than 30 people at a meeting last week to begin planning the event.

The audience at Wednesday’s meeting at the Roswell Convention Center included representatives from local hotels, businesses, the Roswell Chamber of Commerce, MainStreet Roswell and the International UFO Museum and Research Center, as well as at least one vendor, several city councilors, a handful of city staff and several Roswell residents.

Those gathered had a chance to voice their opinions of this year’s festival, brainstorm for next year and get involved in planning committees.

The festival is planned for July 1-3 and commemorates the 75th anniversary of the alleged crash of a UFO near Roswell.

The organizational meeting was a “safe space” for people to talk about what didn’t work for the 2021 festival, City Manager Joe Neeb told those gathered.

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This year’s festival was the first organized by the city, which contracted with a Texas company, InDepth Events, to manage the festival. Events were scheduled throughout the city including the Recreation and Aquatic Center, Cielo Grande, the Wool Bowl and even Bottomless Lakes State Park. Weather forced some events to be moved or canceled, however. Many of the events required tickets.

At the same time, MainStreet Roswell, which previously had managed the festival, offered free, family-friendly events on the lawn of the Chaves County Courthouse and its Passport program to encourage people to visit businesses in the downtown district. The International UFO Museum and Research Center’s UFOlogist Invasion also brought researchers for lectures during the week.

Several people commented on the difficulty of finding events and urged for the festival to be brought back to Main Street with the street closed off.

Sandra England said she had a first-time festival guest staying at her short-term rental.

“She felt like it was very confusing to find the different places, and part of that was because of the weather problem. I tried to explain that, but it was hard for me as a host to let my guests know where things were going to be because it was continually changing,” she said.

Kerry Moore said it was difficult to find one place were all the events were listed other than the Roswell Daily Record and there was no place online to find a full list of events.

“That’s exactly what we heard at the Chamber of Commerce,” said Andrea Moore, executive director of the chamber, about the situation during and leading up the festival. “It was very difficult for them to find what MainStreet was doing versus what Roswell was doing versus what the museum was doing.”

England and several others also said visitors, especially those who were older or had a disability, found it difficult to get to different events because they were so spread out.

Don James, owner of Ancients of Days Rocks and Fossils Shop, said downtown crowds were diminished and customers asked him where the festival was.

“They did not like having to travel to multiple, different locations. They liked everything in Main Street,” he said.

Several people also questioned why the city outsourced management of the festival to an out-of-state company.

“I just think if we’re promoting Roswell, we shouldn’t be hiring Texas. We need to grow our own. And this event shouldn’t just be a one-and-done. We should use this to help grow our community, to show off some of the other things that we have as well,” Todd DeKay said.

Neeb told the crowd that, for 2022, there will be one event with the city, MainStreet and the UFO Museum activities complementing each other. The city will incorporate other areas of town, he said, but there will be a “ground zero” from which the festival will be based. And the festival will be home-grown, with committees taking on various aspects of planning and logistics, from entertainment to sanitation.

“We believe we have all the resources we need community-wide to do the planning of this. We have a billion-dollar brand and I think that’s part of it, too, is that we’re trying to make that brand as big as possible,” he said.

Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings said the New Mexico Tourism Department also believes the festival will be big. The festival was named one of 13 projects in its Strategic Events Recovery Readiness Initiative, a pilot project for pandemic recovery.

“They are helping us put it together because they believe that this festival is as big as the (Albuquerque) Balloon Fiesta and so we’re super excited,” she said.

A couple of people called for the city to have a UFO crash site as part of the festival, as out-of-town visitors often ask about the actual crash site and frequently take photos with various alien figures around town.

“We have to have a crash, and, if we have a crash, that is ground zero. That is the launch pad” for events, one woman said.

Neeb mentioned MainStreet Roswell built a small UFO crash scene on the courthouse lawn this year.

“It actually did really well as a nice little photo op and everything. It was small, but it did exactly what you’re saying a crash would do,” he said.

Another man encouraged drawing on the city’s aviation-related industries to help design and build a sizable crashed UFO that could become a sort of monument for Roswell year-round.

Jennings suggested something is already in the works.

“There is going to be a crash,” she said.

The next meeting is planned for Sept. 30 and will focus on entertainment.

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

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