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Border Zone UFO Festival ditches UFOs

This year will mark the fourth year for a UFO festival in Presidio, Texas. But 2015 is also the year that festival organizers are shifting focus away from UFOs.

(Credit: Yuan Yufei/Wikimedia Commons)

(Credit: Yuan Yufei/Wikimedia Commons)

Presidio’s Border Zone International UFO Festival began in 2012. As the name suggests, the event was filled with UFO related presentations from researchers including Stanton Friedman, Noe Torres, and Gilberto Rivera.

Subsequent years continued with UFO-centric programming, featuring lectures by UFO conference regulars like Travis Walton and Nick Pope.

UFO researchers Ruben Uriarte, Gilbert Rivera, Carlos Guzman, Noe Torres, and Travis Walton at the 2013 Border Zone International UFO Festival. (Credit: Border Zone International UFO Festival/Noe Torres)

UFO researchers Ruben Uriarte, Gilbert Rivera, Carlos Guzman, Noe Torres, and Travis Walton at the 2013 Border Zone International UFO Festival. (Credit: Border Zone International UFO Festival/Noe Torres)

But now, festival organizers have decided it’s time to get away from the UFO topic.

Presidio Municipal Development District executive director Brad Newton told local media outlet Big Bend Sentinel that he “hopes to orient the festival toward a more science-based event, and has even been in touch with representatives at NASA, who, according to Newton, have expressed willingness to send an astronaut for the October festival.”

Newton apparently sees a stigma attached to the term “UFO.” He points to an issue with NASA, stating, “[T]hey won’t send you an astronaut if you have UFO in your name.”

Although former NASA astrobiologist Richard Hoover recently spoke at the International UFO Congress, former NASA astronaut Story Musgrave recently spoke at the Mutual UFO Network’s symposium, and former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell will be presenting a lecture (via Skype) at the upcoming Contact in the Desert event, Newton seems to think that scientists and astronauts are deterred by the term “UFO.”

Organizers have even gone so far as to remove “UFO” from the event’s title, which is now the Texas Border Zone Dark Skies Festival. According to Big Bend Sentinel, this refers to “the Dark Skies Program at Big Bend Ranch State Park, which strives to reduce light pollution and promote stargazing within the state parks.”

Photo taken as part of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Dark Skies program. (Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

Photo taken as part of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Dark Skies program. (Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

“We want to concentrate more on the music, more on the science and astronomy,” Newton says, clarifying the new focus of the event.

The embarrassing topic of UFOs might not be completely gone from the festival though. Newton claims, “The paranormal will always be part of the mystery of the Big Bend and we don’t want to forget that, but it’s not the main focus.”

The reworked Texas Border Zone Dark Skies Festival takes place October 30-31.

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About Jason McClellan

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Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

5 comments

  1. avatar

    Why would anyone ditch the UFO topic unless they want to make it boring?

  2. avatar

    I’d like to clarify that the removal of the word “UFO” from the title does not mean that the UFO topic will be “ditched.” The change is in the title of the festival and in the overall focus of the guest lectures. We are planning to continue exploring the subject, along with other space exploration and astronomy topics. There are other conferences and festivals that include a UFO thread despite not using the term “UFO” in their title. Being no longer exclusively a “UFO festival,” the Texas Dark Skies festival will expand its focus to include a multitude of other space-related topics. The city where this festival is held – Presidio, Texas – is 40 miles from where a UFO and small plane reportedly collided in 1974, a case generally known as “Mexico’s Roswell.” So the UFO roots of the festival will remain.

    Also, regarding former NASA personnel who have spoken at UFO events, the key word is “former.” Hoover and Musgrave, no longer employed by NASA, will generally speak for whomever will pay their fees. Current NASA employees, including astronauts, do not appear at events that carry the label “UFO,” which they view as too polarizing. — Noe Torres, Organizer, TexasDarkSkies.com

  3. avatar

    @Noe Torres – Thanks for your response, Noe. I knew you would have more info on this.

  4. avatar

    Good response, Mr. Torres — best wishes for your mind-broadening event. Part of the official NASA leeriness of the subject reflects the attitudes of space workers to the widespread media stories of ‘NASA UFO secrets’, and more bluntly, ‘NASA lies about UFOs’. while they realize the suspicions and accusations are groundless. As a retired Mission Control Center veteran I’ve researched the highly popular stories extensively, and describe why I believe they are all bogus, here — http://www.jamesoberg.com/ufo.html

  5. avatar

    By the way, the new season of “NASA’s Unexplained Files”, in which I am a major participant, starts on the Science Channel next week.

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