Locals prep for Roswell UFO Festival this weekend

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ROSWELL N.M. — Visitors began flocking to Roswell Thursday, as the city prepares for its annual UFO Festival this weekend.

The event, which starts Friday and lasts through Sunday, is the city’s most famous gathering – lectures from experts on the paranormal collide with out-of-this-world entertainment.

People from all over the world will be descending on Roswell. It was 75 years ago, that an object, believed by many to be a UFO, landed in Roswell. For years, the city has marked the occasion with scores of alien-themed activities.

Nancy Casner of El Paso Texas and her daughter made their way to the city and the UFO Festival this Thursday for the first time.

“We thought we are going to venture out and see what this festival is all about,” she said, while standing outside the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

By Thursday afternoon the crowds were already picking up, visiting the UFO Museum and taking in the sights and sounds, while merchants set up kiosks in the downtown area in preparation for the launch of the festivities.

Organizers say there will be something for everyone ranging from live music, to arts and crafts, and a scavenger hunt in which some local businesses will participate and costume contests.

“We are stressing, making sure we’ve got everything ready. But it’s going to be fantastic. We’ve done this before, so we’ve got a good feel for what needs to go on,” 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 merchants 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 businesses, looking to cater 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 the festival has. He said in 2021 Hangar 209, their small beef jerky and souvenir shop, had scores of customers.

“I would say this is Roswell’s Christmas. This is where everything we’ve been putting all year long as far as building up stock, creating new things, this is where all of it kind of gets heeled up with all the people who come in and check stuff out and get the feel of what people are kind of thinking, liking and everything else,” Batista said.

The Festival is a chance for Roswell to introduce people from around the globe to its history and culture. But it’s also a chance for this isolated southeast New Mexico community to meet others.

“They come from all over the world for this and it’s just really cool to meet them and say hi,” Wright said.