July 2011, my sister Debbie and I were scheduled to lecture at the Roswell UFO festival releasing the latest information from our investigations. We were lecturing for a coalition of businesses called, “The Roswell UFO & Alien Merchants Association” who wanted to start their own lecture series bringing in more of a variety of speakers to the festival.
On May 19th I was contacted by a representative from the “RUAMA” and informed that they were forced to cancel the lecture series. The cancellation was pressured by the newly appointed Mayor, Del Jurney. The mayor felt their lecture series was in direct competition to the lecture series offered by the International UFO Museum.
The “RUAMA” speakers were to include: Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr., Astronaut Story Musgrave, Dennis Balthaser, Peter Robbins, Paola Harris, Dr. Donald Burleson, Noe Torres, Debbie and me. Obviously all cancelled now. Why would the mayor do this?
Most people visiting the festival are unaware of the constant disagreements which are and have taken place between the museum and the festival committee. When I first got involved with lecturing at Roswell, museum affiliates who disagreed with the City Council referred to them as Red Coats, not because they actually wore red coats, but because they were considered enemies. Of course I laughed when I heard the story, but soon realize they were serious. What a shame.
In late 2010 news spread throughout the internet claiming the City Council was going to cut funding for the 2011 festival thus possibly putting the festival in jeopardy. Then at the last minute the head of the UFO Museum, Julie Shuster, became the new committee’s co-chair and funding was granted.
The following is from Albuquerque’s channel 4 KOB.com:
Money secured for 2011 UFO Festival, Tuesday, November 30th, 11:43pm
With $150,000 and new committee to head up the event, space age revelry is guaranteed to rip the cosmic seams of Roswell next July. The Roswell Tax Occupancy Board met on Tuesday to approve the funding of a $150,000 proposal by a new UFO Festival committee for their 2011 event.
Roswell city leaders quietly formed a new UFO committee after former chairwoman Renee Roach resigned just days after the festival in July. The head of the UFO Museum, Julie Shuster, is now new committee’s co-chair. She’s been an outspoken leader, voicing her displeasure with how the city ran the festival in the past.
“They make money. They don’t make money. They lose money. They misplace money, ” Shuster says. “We’ll be able to take accountability to the city council and my board of directors. “
Earlier this year city leaders said there would be a thorough review of how money was spent on the festival and what the city’s return was. Five months later however, leaders admit that audit hasn’t occurred.
The proposal now goes to the city’s finance committee for review.
You see based on the average hotel/motel statistics from previous festivals, capacities were generally at 98% filled throughout the four day festival. This capacity usually means an excess of 15,000 “UFOites” visiting Roswell. This not only generates a lot of revenue for the city’s businesses, but for the museum as well.
The problem always seems to be, who should have the authority to run the festival and reap the majority of the benefits? The museum which is the “UFO” main attraction, has always believed they should be allowed to run the festival. Local merchants disagree because they claim the museum only cares for their own longevity and not for the local businesses. Here’s an example.
The museum plans to move away from the down town location to a much larger site just outside the business district. The down town merchants are afraid this would cause a “Wal-Mart” effect in which visitors will be focusing their visits away from the down town area to the museum’s new location. The new location would be designed more like a convention center with complete food and shopping. This “all in one” structure could cause the demise of smaller businesses in the downtown area resembling the effect Wal-Mart’s have caused in small towns nationwide. The merchant’s association in which I was going to lecture for, wants to start their own professional lecture series thus starting a new tradition which will attract visitors back to the down town area once the museum moves. I guess the mayor sees it differently.
This inter-dimensional city fighting has gone so far now, that not only has the Mayor intervened, that sources have told me the museum has actually reserved the Civic Center’s lecture hall with no intention of using it. This would in turn make it impossible for any other lecture group to use, thus leaving it empty throughout the festival.
So let’s sum up.
The head of the UFO museum is the committee’s co-chair for the festival committee.
The mayor and possibly festival committee members are keeping other Roswell residents from starting their own lecture series, giving the museum carte-blanch for offering lectures. Who is in charge, Roswell residents or the museum? And, who does the new Mayor really answer to, the people or the museum?
Who does this hurt? Well, obviously the people visiting the festival who want more than an amusement park atmosphere. As an investigator I’ve personally seen people venturing to Roswell during the festival to look for an answer to a question deep within themselves which they’ve been afraid to ask. Usually during the festival, they’d have the opportunity to speak with investigators getting these unanswered questions answered. Now, the majority of patrons won’t get their questions answered because the basic logistics of this possibility will be denied.
Why? Let me explain.
The museum may only be able to satisfy 300 or so guests at one time through multiple lectures at different locations. I know this sounds a little farfetched, but if all 15,000 people wanted to at least sit in on one lecture, well let’s do the math.
15,000 visitors divided by 300 being able to see a lecture at one time, leaves 50 lectures available. If each lecture was an hour long with a 15 minute question and answer, with guests entering and exiting the lecture rooms, there would have to be (12.5) 75 minute lecture spots per day for four days. That’s over a 900 minutes, or a (15.5) hour day!
Ok some more logistics.
In past festivals when there were multiple lecture series going on at once throughout Roswell, the museum still experienced such high volumes of visitors that the fire marshal had to step in to keep the building safe. If the museum is the only place offering lectures, then it is realistically impossible to satisfy the needs of the majority of visitors while keeping them in a safe environment.
But alas, these controversies won’t stop my sister and me from visiting Roswell this year even though we won’t be lecturing. What the museum has to worry about is, while their investigators are busy lecturing 3 or 4 times a day and signing books in between to satisfy the 15000 or more guests they’ll be encountering, my sister and I get to play! We play by visiting current investigative sights, looking for new ones, and possibly meeting new eye witnesses. This is a win, win, situation for us but maybe a losing situation for the city of Roswell. If Roswell can’t get their act together, then possibly their good neighbor the city of Corona (which is closest to the debris site) may just take over this event making this a festival again rather than the farce it’s become.