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Dueling domains: Roswell alien events cause confusion

Attendees at Roswell’s annual UFO Festival. (Courtesy of City of Roswell)

ROSWELL, N.M. — Tourism officials in New Mexico have raised concerns about people confusing a UFO Festival with downtown alien-related events because of similar domain names searched online.

The 2021 Roswell UFO Festival will get a marketing boost after the New Mexico Department of Tourism approved it for its Strategic Events Recovery Readiness Initiative, a pilot program intended to help cultural events recover from the economic downfall cause by the pandemic, the Roswell Daily Record reported.

Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings told the Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee on Thursday that the festival was one of 13 special events around the state selected from more than 100 applicants.

The program will provide a team of event experts who will give technical assistance and help gain sponsorships for the events and provide cooperative funds for advertising. However, the state has expressed concerns about the messaging since Roswell is also hosting its first annual Alien Fest.

City Manager Joe Neeb said the confusion is caused in part by online search results for the UFO Festival that frequently yield a website for Mainstreet Roswell’s Alien Fest — www.ufofestivalroswell.com. But the official UFO Festival website, which launched on Thursday, is www.ufofestival.com.

“We’re having people show up at different websites and so it gets confusing as to that message as far as is it Alien Fest, the UFO Festival or is it something separate?” Neeb said.

MainStreet Roswell Executive Director Kathy Lay told the Roswell Daily Record that the Alien Fest is not a separate festival, but rather the name for activities focused on bringing visitors to downtown businesses.

“There are different titles that they give to some of the activities that are happening, so these are going to be the downtown Alien Fest activities that we’re doing downtown during the festival weekend. We are not planning on a separate festival,” she said.

Neeb and Jennings said the city is working with MainStreet Roswell to help clarify the issue.

Robert Chapman, co-founder of In Depth Events, which the city has contracted to manage the UFO Festival, said the event will include outdoor movies, an electronic dance party and a concert. The headline act is scheduled to be announced May 1.

Chapman said traffic to its website was slower than desired, but interest prior to the website launch showed interest with about 700 form entries from people seeking information on tickets, volunteering, sponsorships or becoming a vendor. Chapman said there are plans to promote the festival on social media.

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