The Roswell Festival might be considered the highlight of the tourist season in New Mexico. Tens of thousands of people make it to Roswell for the Festival and hundreds of thousands visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center during the year. Top of the line hotels are found in the city and the downtown area reflects the economic boom that UFOs have created.
I made it to the festival for the first time in seven years and saw that much has changed. There is now a big display from The Day the Earth Stood Still and people lined up to have their pictures taken with Gort. Science fiction, though not a huge part of the museum, does have its place and I’m not sure that is such a bad thing. After all, I have written a number of science fiction novels, something that a few in the UFO field never failed to mention.
|The Day the Earth Stood Still in the Roswell Museum. All photographs copyright by Kevin Randle.|
One of the first things I did, on the first morning before the Festival began, before the opening “Meet and Greet” took place, was approach Derrell Sims. I mentioned something about a fellow Vietnam Veteran and he was quick to point out that he was a Vietnam Era Veteran. That means he served in the military during the war but that he had never deployed incountry (which is how we say served in Vietnam). He then launched into his resume of military service which has been well publicized over the years.
My plan was to interview six of the men and women who had been invited to give presentations. There were troubles with this from the very beginning. It started with getting the microphone, computer and WiFi connection operating. I had planned to use Skype video, but we just couldn’t get a good signal strength for it to work properly. I finally settled for four shows using only audio.
I, along with several others including Paul Davids, Tom Carey, Don Schmitt, Don Burleson and Frank Kimbler, were on two panels about the Roswell case. There were some interesting nuggets dropped there. I had mentioned that there were avenues of investigation to be followed, including research into the Ramey Memo. I did say that we hadn’t found any metallic debris but Frank said that wasn’t exactly accurate.
|Don Schmitt, Kevin Randle and Frank Kimbler on the Roswell Panel. In the interest of full disclosure, this picture|
is from an earlier Festival panel discussion on the Roswell case.
Frank, in his work with the Roswell case, had been finding bits and pieces of metallic debris out on the Foster (Brazel) ranch. Much of it is still being analyzed. Frank did say it was difficult to find labs to do the analysis when they learned that it related to the Roswell case.
This is something that I think all of us have encountered. Don and Tom said that as they attempted to interest anthropologists in certain aspects of the Roswell investigation, they would bail at the first mention of Roswell.
In researching the Ramey Memo, I have run into the same thing. Photo analyses and other experts backed away the moment Roswell was mentioned. Others who helped didn’t want their names associated with anything to do with Roswell.
All this means is that Frank’s trouble in finding labs for the analysis rings true. And, it is too bad that Roswell has become something of a problem for scientists and technicians who would like to investigate but fear for their professional reputations.
Frank told me something else that I found important but that has nothing to do with UFOs. Back in the 1970s I saw a movie, McKenna’s Gold about the Lost Adams Diggings. That was a very rich placer gold deposit that had been guarded by the Apache. Adams, and several others, were taken to that hidden canyon and told not to venture above the waterfall. Of course, they did, and found a hard rock gold mine. The Apaches, angered by this violation, killed the miners except for Adams, who through good fortune, escaped to tell the tale.
I had pretty well decided that this was just another fabled gold mine story that dots the old west. There are those who believe it and spent time searching for it. Frank told me that he had found the right canyon, that it does exist, and strangely, he told me where it is… southwestern New Mexico. He’d been there, seen the landmarks that Adams had described, seen the gold of the placer deposit and knew he had found the right place. Then, to compound the story, he told me specifically where it is… Apache Box Canyon, which you can basically drive to… and Google Earth will show you the way.
But I digress.
I did talk briefly with Travis Walton, who seemed to be surrounded by fans most of the three days of the Festival. I didn’t interview him while in Roswell (though that had been part of my plan), he did agree to do the radio show later. I plan to interview him in August.
The real question was if anything new about the Roswell case turned up during the Festival. While on a panel to discuss all things Roswell I had mentioned that we were running out of avenues to explore. There was the investigation into the Ramey memo, but at this stage is seemed a long shot to think we’d ever come to a consensus. Out technology isn’t quite there and given the circumstances might never get there.
Tom and Don also mentioned additional witnesses but the problem here is that we’re now dealing with the descendants of those who were there. Such interviews
present some problems since we’re not dealing with just old memories, but with
old memories that could be misinterpretations of what was said by those telling
the tales to their children. We’re moving far away from the primary sources
which is not a good thing.
|Tom Carey signing books in Roswell.|
I gave two presentations. One was “Roswell in the 21st Century,” which was derived from my book by that name. It was a look at some of the evidence that had collapsed in the last 20 years, but also look at some of the positive things uncovered in that same time frame.
I think one of the best things was the value of the Jim Ragsdale story. He was the guy who said that while out in the desert, with a woman to whom he was not married. They had seen the object fall and crash near them. Ragsdale was later said that he had seem dummies or bodies, he wasn’t sure which. He repeated the word “dummies” several times. James McAndrew who wrote the anti-Roswell book, Case Closed for the Air Force, used Ragsdale’s testimony to prove that what was seen were anthropomorphic dummies dropped years after the Roswell crash. But, if Ragsdale was lying, as now seems to be the case, then his testimony about dummies or bodies is irrelevant, and a conclusion based on his testimony is fatally flawed. In other words, the Air Force used a lie to prove that these anthropomorphic dummies were what Ragsdale and others had seen. There were no alien bodies at all.
|Kathleen Marden chatting with a visitor.|
I did chat with Kathleen Marden for an hour, which was recorded there in Roswell to be broadcast on my radio show/podcast in the near future. We discussed the Barney and Betty Hill abduction, the star map, and other aspects of the abduction phenomenon. She seemed to have a good grasp on the topic, though I wasn’t in complete agreement with her on many of the points.
While there I did have the opportunity to speak with dozens of people. Although many seemed to understand that we lack the proof positive of an alien event, too many others seemed to embrace all the craziness from the Philip Corso story to the MJ-12 nonsense. There were some who were quite well versed in UFOs and others who were there because, well, there was a festival going on and it sounded like fun. I even saw a few people dressed as Storm Troopers (the Star Wars kind) and a couple of others in costumes from other science fiction universes. (But since I write science fiction myself on occasion, I didn’t mind chatting with those people.)
Most of my time was spent either arranging interviews for the radio show or conversing with those who were visiting the museum. I was there, at the museum, from the moment it opened until it was closed. But I just didn’t have a chance to sit in on other presentations. There were three tracks of programming, not to mention the special sessions held by some of the presenters. Too much to do and too little time to do it which, for a Festival, is probably a good thing.
I should note that the museum staff worked very hard to put on a good Festival, but had time to help me with my problems in setting up for the radio interviews. I never heard an angry word from any of them. They worked to keep everything flowing smoothly and the crowds happy. They did a great job and I never heard anyone complain about the programming, the presentations or the availability of the staff to help out.
The last thing was a tribute dinner for Stan Friedman who had died several weeks earlier. Given my experiences with Stan, some of the things he said about me, and his attempts to stop the publication of Don’s and my book, UFO Crash at Roswell, I just didn’t feel the need to attend. Instead I had Church’s Fried Chicken.
|Main Street closed for the vendors during the Festival.|
For those interested in analysis, I think the Festival has gone in the direction of creating a festival in recent years. While there was programing that related to UFO research, there were many other activities that had nothing to do with that. Main Street near the museum was shut down for all sorts of vendors, some of which had little or nothing to do with UFOs. Not that I’m criticizing that, just noting it in passing.
|The International UFO Museum and Research Center.|
For those interested in UFOs in general and Roswell in particular, the annual Festival is one of those must attends. The opportunity to talk with the researchers, those who have spent decades investigating Roswell, and others who have spent the same kind of time researching other aspects of the UFO field, is the big plus. I was able to answer lots of questions about the case that might not have been explained in detail in books, magazine articles and TV documentaries.
As for the Festival, it is something that those interested in UFOs should attend, at least once.