'98 Roswell UFO Fest 'a Success'
The Associated Press
ROSWELL -- Some 10,000 visitors filled Roswell motel rooms through the weekend for the ¹98 edition of the city's UFO Encounter, commemorating the purported crash of a flying saucer.
"I consider it a success," said Johnny Johnson, director of the Roswell Convention and Civic Center. "We had 90 percent of the motel rooms filled up in the last four days."
Back in July 1947, so the story goes, the government recovered a UFO and alien bodies from an isolated Roswell-area ranch, then covered up the whole thing.
Last year's 50th anniversary celebration brought in 48,000 people, according to the state Department of Tourism, although Johnson believes that number might be inflated. The anniversary also prompted more than 1,000 articles from March through December 1997, reaching 46.1 million people.
Johnson said this year's celebration, which ended Sunday, can't be compared to last year's.
"This is not the 50th anniversary," he said. "You can't expect the same amount of people. The media didn't cover the event like they did last year."
The 30-plus vendors who exhibited at the UFO Expo and Trade Show were about evenly divided between those who reported financial success and failure, he said.
But for future events to succeed, there's got to be more than UFO souvenirs because merchandising doesn't bring in visitors, Johnson said. He'd like to see speakers, exhibits and presentations based on mankind's space travel experiences.
"We need to mix science fiction with science. . . . We need to offer attractions that are educational and show that reality is just as wild as the imagination is," he said.