1 event near Area 51 pulls plug; second festival continues

HIKO, Nev. (AP) - The promoter of an event set up for Earthlings to party around the "Storm Area 51" internet craze in the remote Nevada desert has pulled the plug due to low attendance, while the host of a festival for several thousand people in the tiny town of Rachel said Saturday her show will go on.

"Area 51 Basecamp" organizer Keith Wright said that after drawing just 500 attendees at a Friday event planned for 5,000 at the Alien Research Center souvenir shop in Hiko, he had to pull the plug.

"We put on a safe event for the people that showed up," Wright said. "But we had to make the decision today because it costs tens of thousands of dollars to staff each day."

"It was a gamble financially," he said. "We lost."

Several dozen campers still at the site can stay until Sunday, he added.



In Rachel, Little A'Le'Inn owner Connie West said she was sad to hear the Hiko festival didn't succeed.

West, in a voice hoarse from stress and lack of sleep, said a noon-to-midnight slate of "Alienstock" event musical entertainment will continue for the several thousand revelers camping on her property and nearby federal land.

"This is the most fabulous time," West said. "I'm just so grateful that people came. This is their event as much as it is mine."

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee called activities "pretty calm" early Saturday in Rachel and Hiko

In Nye County, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly reported no one showed up at a main entrance and an auxiliary gate at the once-secret Area 51 U.S. Air Force facility.

Wehrly revised to 100 each the number of people who appeared at each of those gates early Friday near Amargosa Valley, a 90-minute drive west of Las Vegas.

Lee, about a two-hour drive north of Las Vegas, said revelers gathered until about 4 a.m. at two gates between Hiko and Rachel, and said about 20 people broke from among revelers and "acted like they were going to storm but stopped short."

Lee and Wright reported one arrest, for disorderly conduct, at the "Area 51 Basecamp" event Hiko.

Earlier, officials reported five arrests, including one man treated for dehydration by festival medics in Rachel.

Lee said a man reported missing Friday morning after heading Thursday from a festival campground in Hiko toward an Area 51 gate was found safe Friday evening. Details weren't immediately made public.

One could say the vibe among the assembled, which Lee estimates totaled in the low thousands, has remained mostly harmless.

While costumed space aliens were a common and sometimes hilarious sight in events that began Thursday, no one has reported seeing actual extraterrestrials or UFOs.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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