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Area 51 Raid Started as a Joke, But Now It’s a Festival

In an apparent case of going from joking to “toking,” the internet hoax that called for a raid on Area 51, is now being planned as a Woodstock-Like “Alien Fest.”

The man who created the Internet sensation, “Storm Area 51 — They Can’t Stop All of Us,” is planning a real-life festival called Alien Stock in Rachel, Nevada, a small town near the remote base within the Nevada Test and Training Range, a couple hours’ drive northwest of Las Vegas.

The three-day festival set to start Sept. 20 – the original date of the raid, which attracted 2 million people!

According to the Washington Post, “Alien Stock” will be “a celebration of aliens that promises surprise performances, art installations and camping.” Given the enthusiasm that was generated by the original hoax event, the Festival is expected to pack a tiny town already overrun by media attention and a spike in interest in all things extraterrestrial.

With just over a month left to plan and some residents reportedly less than thrilled about the attention, the organizers are focused on the logistics of bringing thousands to a town of 54 people, as counted in the last Census. They’re fending off suggestions they could be planning the next Fyre Festival, the 2017 event that fell apart spectacularly and led to fraud charges.

Nearly half a million people signed up to storm Area 51. What happens if they actually show?

The Internet frenzy over “Storm Area 51” has thrust Rachel, Nev., into a new limelight and tested the patience of its small number of residents.

“Of course it’s scary,” said Connie West, whose alien-themed inn declares on its website that it is “BOOKED SOLID FOR ALIEN-STOCK.” “But I’m excited,” she told The Washington Post. “How can I not be?”

The U.S. government denied Area 51’s existence for decades before a public records request in 2013 showed it to be real. Government documents make no mention of aliens, describing the site as an aircraft testing area. But revelations two years ago of a $22 million Defense Department program on “anomalous aerospace threats,” commonly known as UFOs, have helped keep speculation about the Nevada facility alive.

Alien Tourism

Along with the more well-known Roswell, New Mexico – the legendary alleged site of a UFO crash – Rachel has capitalized on “Alien Tourism” long before the “Storm Area 51” internet hoax.

Because of the small towns close proximity to the mysterious Area 51, Rachel has long embraced the rumors of hidden aliens and their spacecraft in the area. A town welcome sign notes an extraterrestrial population as well as a human one — there’s no head count, just a question mark — and visitors drive down the Extraterrestrial Highway.

A questions-and-answers page linked on Rachel’s official website tackles inquiries like “Are there UFOs at Area 51?” (no) and “Is there an Area 52?” (yes, about 65 miles away).

But not everyone is happy about the prospect of so many visitors in September, Miss West said.

As the owner of what Rachel’s website calls the town’s only remaining business, West has been flooded with media requests since Area 51 blew up online. She says she stopped counting the interviews at 153.

“We live in a quiet little place because we like it quiet,” she said.

Brock Daily, an Arkansas college student and one of the organizers of the Festival, told the Washington Post he’s expecting 5,000 to 30,000 people to show up for Alien Stock, which Daily said he pitched to Storm Area 51 creator Mathew Roberts last month. The 20-year-old said it’s hard to share precise interest numbers because they just started publicizing.

Alien Stock bills itself as “a meeting place for all the believers — people at least intrigued by the possibility of extraterrestrial life.” However, Daily guesses some will come “just to witness an online phenomenon come to life.” Most details on the entertainment have yet to be released; the only planned guest publicized online is a rock-and-roll group called Wily Savage.

But any total in the thousands will pose logistical challenges in a place as small and rural as Rachel. A prominent notice on the town’s website warns festivalgoers of the limited infrastructure. “There is no gas and no store. … We expect cell service and the Internet to be offline,” the note reads. “Credit card [processing] will not work, so bring enough cash.”

The local sheriff, Kerry Lee, said his office is working with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to prepare for a “very large but unknown number of visitors.”

Hopefully most of them will be from this world.