ROSWELL NM — Visitors began flocking to Roswell on Thursday, as the city gears up for its annual UFO festival this weekend.
The event, which begins Friday and lasts through Sunday, is the city’s most famous gathering – lectures by paranormal experts collide with out-of-this-world entertainment.
People from all over the world will descend on Roswell. It’s been 75 years since an object believed by many to be a UFO landed in Roswell. For years, the city has marked the occasion with dozens of alien-themed activities.
Nancy Casner of El Paso Texas and her daughter hit the town and the UFO festival this Thursday for the first time.
“We thought we were going to venture outside and see what this festival was all about,” she said, as she stood outside the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
By Thursday afternoon, crowds were already gathering, touring the UFO museum and taking in the sights and sounds, as vendors set up booths downtown in preparation for the launch of the festivities.
Organizers say there will be something for everyone, from live music and arts and crafts to a scavenger hunt that some local businesses will participate in and costume contests.
“We stress, we make sure everything is ready. But it’s going to be fantastic. We’ve done this before, so we have a good idea of what needs to continue,” said Xanthia Wright, president of Main Street Roswell, which helps organize festival activities each year.
She added that this year there will be between 30 and 40 vendors on the Chaves County Courthouse lawn. Others will be at other locations, such as the Roswell Convention Center.
The Festival is also an opportunity for companies seeking to respond to the wave of visitors and potential customers.
Dominic Batista Jr. and his wife have only been business owners for one previous festival, but he knows the impact of the festival. He said that in 2021, Hangar 209, their small cured meat and souvenir shop, had dozens of customers.
“I would say it’s Roswell Christmas. That’s where everything we’ve been putting in all year in terms of building inventory, creating new things, that’s where it all sort of happens with all the people coming in to check the things and getting a feel for what people think and like and everything else,” Batista said.
The Festival is a chance for Roswell to showcase its history and culture to people around the world. But it’s also a chance for this isolated community in southeastern New Mexico to meet other people.
“They come from all over the world for this and it’s really cool to meet them and say hello,” Wright said.