September 7th, 2021

UFOFest Returns

A person in a diy silver alien costume stares ahead.
After a year and a half of waiting, McMenamins UFO Festival returns…

McMenamins Hotel Oregon’s UFO Festival returns to McMinnville this fall with something very special — unprecedented, even.

The UFOs are real. 

It wasn’t exactly what the ufology community calls “Big D” disclosure, but in June the U.S. Government released a report affirming what Navy pilots and former Pentagon officials have acknowledged for a few years now: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are out there, and despite the best efforts of intense study of 144 incidents reported by the U.S. Navy over the last couple years, they can say: 1) They’re not ours, 2) They’re probably not Russia or China, so 3) …. ?

It’s the perfect time to put McMinnville’s famed UFO Festival on your “must visit” lists. 

Well, maybe not perfect. We’re still wearing masks and the event has been scaled back a bit, but UFO experts from around the U.S. will be here. And clearly, they’ll have a lot to talk about.

Alongside Roswell, McMinnville is legendary in UFO circles. It was the local newspaper that in 1950 published the black-and-white image that is today still regarded as one of the best pieces of photographic evidence of an actual flying saucer, shot by Paul Trent, a local farmer. 

Conceived in 1999 to mark the 50-year anniversary of the sighting, the festival has become a nationally-known cultural event, one that brings together experts and skeptics alike to get into the UFO weeds while celebrating all things extraterrestrial. 

It’s set for Sept. 24-25 at McMenamins Hotel Oregon, although speakers will actually appear at the McMinnville Community Center a couple blocks north on Evans Street. 

Speaker, Travis Walton presents during a previous festival. Photo courtesy of McMenamins.

Montana Tech anthropology professor Michael Masters, Ph.D. is the headline speaker this year and will discuss his “extratempestrials” (not “aliens,” but time-traveling humans) theory. Colorado MUFON State Director Katie Griboski and several others join the lineup.

Dr. Masters says the government’s UAP report is a welcome change to the discussion.

“The UAP report, the Pentagon confirming the reality of these highly advanced craft,  and the increased media attention more recently have all bolstered the conversation and have helped to further reduce the stigma, which, for far too long, acted as a real barrier to scientific research and informed discussions of the subject,” he said. “It has been great to see these recent changes and I’m hopeful they will continue.” 

The McMinnville Downtown Association will host a lively vendor fair on Third Street, which will run 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days. MDA President Dave Rucklos said about 40 vendors from around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest will set up their tents. Local shops, galleries and tasting rooms will be open as well.

A man dressed as a hammer and a woman dressed as a witch jump and click their heels.  The large historic granary building is in the background.
No UFO Festival is complete without McMenamins Hammerhead and Ruby!
Photo courtesy of McMenamins.

And as long as you’re downtown, you might plan on a meal: We’ve got plenty of restaurants packed into 16 walkable blocks, and many are participating in Dine(Out), which offers outdoor seating through September. 

Enjoy a leisurely dinner and a glass of wine or microbrew in what’s likely to be perfect late summer weather. 

And keep an eye on the sky. You never know what might be up there. 

A cartoon of David Bates

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.