Festivals in Nevada towns near Area 51 get the final local OK

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

PIOCHE, Nev. (AP) — A rural Nevada county approved strict guidelines Tuesday for a pair of festivals later this month in a desolate desert area wellknown by UFO and alien hunters.

Lincoln County commissioners took the action amid concern about the possibility of unmanageable crowds attracted by an internet hoax dubbed “Storm Area 51” involving the nearby military installation that has been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories.

The plan adopted by the commission involves a music festival for 5,000 people in tiny Hiko, and projections by Connie West, owner of the Little A’le’Inn motel in Rachel for as many as 10,000 people camping on her property for another event in the town closest to Area 51.

Event organizers said there needs to be food, water and entertainment on hand to help people survive in the desert that’s a nearly three-hour drive from Las Vegas. Most conceded that cellphone service could be overwhelmed.

“We’ll give people something to do so they don’t run amok,” said George Harris, who plans to repurpose his Alien Research Center gift shop into a music venue off a road dubbed Extraterrestrial Highway.

West said she has 700 camping reservations so far, and will allow eight people per campsite. She also plans to collect parking fees to pay for security and medical personnel, and turn away people who bring guns or drugs to her event dubbed “Alienstock.”

“I’m elated and shaking inside,” West told reporters outside Lincoln County Courthouse. “It’s all laying on my shoulders because someone said, ‘Hey, meet me in Rachel.’ Now it’s realer than ever.”

Commissioners and neighbors said they didn’t really want the events or the attention the internet hoax has drawn to the county of 5,200 residents in an area the size of Massachusetts.

“We don’t want to see our desert trashed,” resident Desma Auclair said.