Tag: Rachel Nevada

A Year Later, ‘Storm Area 51’ Still Affects Nevada Town

Article by Christopher Lawrence                                   September 18, 2020                                    (reviewjournal.com)

• September 20th marked the first anniversary of the ‘Storm Area 51’ Facebook event when over two million people responded to a college student’s ‘late-night goof’, and pledged to storm Area 51 to “see them aliens.” Leading up to the event, the world was obsessed with how many people would descend on a tiny town called Rachel, Nevada – 50 miles from anywhere – and what they’d do when they got there.

• The event was thrown into disarray just days before when the young man who coined the phrase “Storm Area 51” severed ties with it. Plans to “storm” the nearby gate at the secretive military facility morphed into a music and arts festival dubbed ‘Alienstock’ for the 2000 or so people who were curious enough to show up.

• As the proprietor of the only business in Rachel, Connie West and her Little A’Le’Inn restaurant and hotel were thrust into the international spotlight. “I’m still not unwound from it,” West says of that wild summer that found media from around the world wandering into her small cafe, “because I have to deal with the aftermath of it every day.” “In this last year (with COVID), we’ve been hit so hard, we’re barely treading water.”

• As a result of this random Facebook meme, Lincoln County, Nevada is out $200,000; two small-business owners lost a combined $250,000; litigation involving the meme’s creator is pending; and Rachel has become divided, with many of its residents no longer speaking to one another. “I’ve known these people for a long, long time,” said West. “Alienstock made me see some ugly in people that I never thought were that deep and ugly, right here in my community.” West estimates the event cost her $200,000, and that tab keeps climbing because of the legal bills. She’s due in court again in late February.

• None of that deterred West from attempting to host another festival in 2020, which was canceled due to the pandemic. “I put a hell of a lot of work into it,” said West. “I had some awesome sponsors.” Those sponsors seem willing to work with her again when it is deemed safe, in 2021 or 2022. “All year, people have reached out to me,” West says. “They want this to happen again.”

• Rachel resident Joerg Arnu says that “The event… deeply divided our town into two camps.” One group backs West and her plans. Arnu leads the other group who wishes that West would just throw in the towel. “There’s a lot of animosity all of a sudden,” says Arnu. “Rachel was a very friendly town, where everybody knew everybody, everybody greeted everybody, waved at everybody. Now it’s come down to the exact opposite. Nobody even wants to talk to anyone anymore.”

• Since the Alienstock festival, Arnu says he’s been harassed, had strangers trespass on his property and has been photographed inside his home via long lenses. He complains of tourists driving through the residential areas of Rachel, and he has reinstalled the security lighting he bought last summer. “Our town that was a very peaceful and quiet place, and friendly place, has changed. I don’t know if it will ever mend, if it will ever go back to how it was,” says Arnu. “I will fight another Alienstock with everything I have.”

• Aside from the town of Rachel, the ‘Area 51 Basecamp’ at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nevada also had grand ambitions. British DJ Paul Oakenfold was so excited about the event that he flew from England on his private jet to perform for free on opening night at the center. But so few festival-goers showed up, plans were scrapped and tickets were refunded.

• “I don’t think we have anything to be embarrassed about,” says George Harris, the owner of the Alien Research Center. “And, by the way, I lost a lot of money, because I really thought there was going to be about 25,000 or 30,000 people, so we prepared for a lot.” Instead, 8,500 people stopped by over the course of a couple of days. That discrepancy cost him $42,000, and Harris says it will take him four or five years to pay off the bank loan. But the Alien Research Center was busier than normal for the next several weeks, and Harris says visitors still can’t get enough of his “I Stormed Area 51” merchandise. Like West, he plans to do it again.

• Eric Holt had been Lincoln County’s emergency manager for 18 months when calls started pouring in about ‘Storm Area 51’. A predicted number of 100,000 people coming to Lincoln County was a logistical nightmare in a rugged environment with almost no infrastructure. “We spent a month and a half straight just dedicating all of our resources to planning efforts for this,” Holt recalls. Even the 6,000 people who showed up for the event was “still kind of unheard of for up here” where there are only about fifty permanent residents. Holt says the county’s final costs for that weekend topped $200,000, and that was only because several other agencies offered their services at no charge. “[I]t would have been over $1 million easy.” Holt says that, between the event and the pandemic, it could take years for the full economic impact to be felt. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has indicated that help from Carson City isn’t likely.

• The idea to storm Area 51 at 3 a.m. Sept. 20 was born out of late-night boredom as the 20 year old college student Matty Roberts played World of Warcraft while scrolling through Facebook and watching self-proclaimed Area 51 whistleblower Bob Lazar on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Then he watched as the Facebook challenge went viral all over the world. “I was just like, ‘Oh man, the FBI’s going to show up.’ And they did. And I’m pretty sure I’m still on a watchlist.”

• Now, a year later Roberts lives in Bakersfield, California working in a vape shop, waiting for his ‘in person’ college classes to resume, and hoping one day to become an electrician. “It almost feels kind of like a wild fever dream in a way,’ says Roberts. “But I lived that. And that’s kind of bonkers to me. That’s a story not a whole lot of people can tell. I kind of wanna write a book.”

• After he pulled out of the Rachel event, Roberts ended up hosting a party September 19th at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, which served as a launch for Bud Light’s limited-edition Area 51-themed beer. Similar parties were planned in Vegas for this summer, including escape rooms and obstacle courses, and a tour of the East Coast. But COVID-19 stopped all of it in its tracks. “I’ve had quite a few people that kind of mentioned that they thought I made millions from this thing,” says Roberts. But in reality, he only sold a few t-shirts.

• Roberts’ legal rights to the term ‘Alienstock’ are part of the legal dispute with Connie West. But would he do the whole thing again some day? “Absolutely. I mean, if we can, I would love to,” Roberts says. “I think whenever it is, and if it is safe to gather again, I’d really like to kind of just keep pursuing the dream.”

 

                        Joerg Arnu

It seems closer to a generation ago than 12 measly months.

Long before the 2020-ness of life began pulverizing us on a daily basis — back when the biggest thing many of us were concerned about was whether we’d ever get our hands on one of those Popeyes chicken sandwiches — the world was obsessed with how many people would descend on a tiny blip on the Nevada map, 50 miles from anywhere, called Rachel and what they might do when they got there.

Sunday marks the first anniversary of the day on which more than 2 million Facebook users, responding to a college student’s late-night goof, had pledged to storm Area 51 to “see them aliens.”

           George Harris

As a result of that random joke, Lincoln County is out $200,000, two small-business owners lost a combined

                      Connie West

$250,000, litigation is pending and Rachel has become divided, with many of its residents — all of whom could safely gather without violating the state’s 50-person coronavirus guidelines — no longer speaking to one another.

‘I’m still not unwound’

“In this last year, we’ve been hit so hard, we’re barely treading water,” Connie West says.

As the proprietor of the only business in Rachel, the nearest thing

                      Matty Roberts

resembling a town to Area 51, she and her Little A’Le’Inn were thrust into the international spotlight in July 2019 as that Facebook prank went viral.

Plans to breach the nearby gate of the secretive military facility morphed into an ambitious music and

                          Eric Holt

arts festival dubbed Alienstock. The event was thrown into disarray days before, on Sept. 9, when the man who coined the phrase “Storm Area 51” severed ties with it. The resulting four-day festival, put together at the last minute, offered the couple of thousand people curious enough to attend more of a DIY vibe.

“I’m still not unwound from it,” West says of that wild summer that found media from around the world wandering into her small cafe, “because I have to deal with the aftermath of it every day.”

That aftermath includes a lawsuit and countersuit involving the meme’s creator and his team, as well as the wrath of some members of her once-close-knit group of neighbors who remain angry with the way things played out.

“I’ve known these people for a long, long time. … Alienstock made me see some ugly in people that I never thought were that deep and ugly, right here in my community.”

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Area 51 Festival Wraps Up in Nevada; Earthlings Head Home

Article by Associated Press                   September 22, 2019                    (latimes.com)

• Although more than 2 million Facebook users clicked their interest, and local officials anticipated a crowd of at least 30,000, only about 3,000 people made the trip to the small desert city Rachel, Nevada to “Storm Area 51”. Authorities said no more than 1,000 people visited Area 51 gates near Rachel on Thursday and Friday. No one was arrested there.

• Visitors hailed from France, Russia, Germany, Peru, Sweden, Australia and many U.S. states. A few hundred more camped and attended one night of an abbreviated music festival about 40 miles away in Hiko, Nevada. “It seems like a lot of good people chilling and having a good time,” observed Dave Wells, a 56-year-old stonemason from Cincinnati wearing a Day-Glo green festival T-shirt and taking in the scene Saturday in Rachel.

• Connie West, proprietor of the Little A’Le’Inn at the epicenter of the Alienstock event, said “[W]e found peace and friendship” as campers packed up to leave and volunteers began cleaning up. West wants to do it again next year. “As well as it turned out? Why the heck not?” she said. At a festival clinic in Rachel, one man was treated for dehydration, and one woman was treated for a drug-related issue.

• The “Area 51 Basecamp” at the Alien Research Center souvenir shop in Hiko, didn’t fare as well. Organizers pulled the plug Saturday on a second concert after drawing only about 500 ticket-buyers for a Friday show. Preparations had been made for up to 5,000.

• Sheriff Kerry Lee said he watched about 20 people feign a rush before dawn Saturday toward a base gate outside Rachel, before stopping short. In Lincoln County, six people were arrested for misdemeanors, mostly trespassing beneath the floodlights and cameras of two military base gates and the watchful eyes of sheriff’s deputies.

• Officials had feared unruly crowds would overwhelm water, electricity, food, fuel, internet and telephone service in a county with just 5,200 people covering an area the size of Massachusetts. “I’m going to call it a success from our end. It’s because we got out in front of it,” said Varlin Higbee, a Lincoln County commissioner who signed an emergency declaration to allocate $250,000 in emergency funds. Higbee said they might sue to recoup costs.

• Matty Roberts, a 20-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif., made the Facebook post to Storm Area 51 as a hoax, then promoted it, then broke away from the event just weeks before. Roberts hosted a Thursday evening event at an outdoor venue in downtown Las Vegas, also using the “Alienstock” name. He said he wants to trademark the name and take it on tour to reach people who couldn’t travel to Nevada. “That’s pretty much the plan for me,” Roberts said. “It’s been a ton of fun.”

 

HIKO, Nev. — The festivals are over and Earthlings from around the globe headed home Sunday after a weekend camping and partying in the dusty Nevada desert and trekking to remote gates of Area 51, a formerly top-secret U.S. military base long the focus of UFO and space alien lore.

They left in peace, officials and the host of a free “Alienstock” festival said Sunday.

Visitors hailed from France, Russia, Germany, Peru, Sweden, Australia and many U.S. states — many toting cameras — in answer to an internet post in June suggesting that if enough people rushed a military base to “see them aliens” at 3 a.m. Sept. 20, authorities couldn’t stop everyone.

More than 2 million Facebook users clicked their interest, but in the end only a few thousand made the trip to the tiny Nevada desert city of Rachel, population about 50, more than two hours north of Las Vegas by car.

Campers and festival-goers in Rachel peaked at about 3,000 on Friday, said Eric Holt, the Lincoln County official who headed planning for a feared influx of at least 30,000.

A few hundred more camped and attended one night of an abbreviated festival about 40 miles away in Hiko, population 120.

“It seems like a lot of good people chilling and having a good time,” observed Dave Wells, a 56-year-old stonemason and festivals-seeker from Cincinnati wearing a Day-Glo green festival T-shirt and taking in the scene Saturday in Rachel.

Did anyone find actual extraterrestrials or UFOs? (As if anyone could really tell among the masked and costumed beings posing for photos and cavorting in the desert.)

“We didn’t,” said Little A’Le’Inn owner-turned-“Alienstock” festival host Connie West, proprietor of the 10-room motel and cafe that became the center of the extraterrestrial-seeking universe.

“But we found peace. And friendship,” she said Sunday as campers packed up to leave and volunteers began cleaning up.

4:45 minute video of people interviewed at Storm Area 51 event (Fox News YouTube)


10:16 minute video of the Storm Area 51 event (‘Explore With Us’ YouTube)

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Festivals Planned for Nevada Towns Near Area 51 Get the Final Local OK

Article by Ken Ritter                      September 4, 2019                        (time.com)

• People in the small rural areas of Lincoln County and neighboring Nye County in Nevada are bracing for hundreds of thousands of visitor to the “Alienstock” music festival September 20-22 near Area 51. Both Lincoln and Nye counties have prepared emergency declarations to seek state help if needed. The impromptu festival began with the Facebook posting to ‘Storm Area 51’ to which over 2 million people responded.

• Lincoln County commissioners adopted a plan for a 5,000 person music festival in the town of Hiko, and 10,000 people in the town of Rachel. But the possibility of unmanageable crowds looms large. Nye County Commissioners denied any festival permits for what organizers were calling “Peacestock 51”.

• Despite the restrictions imposed by county commissioners, event organizers urged the counties and the state of Nevada to ensure that there will be enough food, water and entertainment on hand to help people survive in the desert, three-hours drive north from Las Vegas. Most concede that cellphone service will be overwhelmed.

• George Harris plans to repurpose his Alien Research Center gift shop into a music venue off of the road dubbed the ‘Extraterrestrial Highway’. Said Harris, “We’ll give people something to do so they don’t run amok.” Portable toilets, water, food, trash bins and security staff will be trucked in.

• Connie West, the owner of the Little A’le’Inn motel in Rachel, said she plans to collect parking fees to pay for security and medical personnel, and turn away people who bring guns or drugs. West told reporters outside Lincoln County Courthouse, “I’m elated and shaking inside”.

• The event organizers and business owners in the Nevada counties agree that they don’t want people to trespass on Area 51. People will be arrested if they approach Area 51’s gates. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said that more than 150 law enforcement officers would be on hand during the events. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak promised that Nevada Guard units would be available for logistical help.

• Commissioner Keith Pearson remarked, “It could be ugly or it could be decent.” Commissioner Bevan Lister concluded, “The biggest thing is, people just have to be respectful and everyone will have a good time.”

 

PIOCHE, Nev. (AP) — A rural Nevada county approved strict guidelines Tuesday for a pair of festivals later this month in a desolate desert area well-known by UFO and alien hunters.

Lincoln County commissioners took the action amid concern about the possibility of unmanageable crowds attracted by an internet hoax dubbed “Storm Area 51” involving the nearby military installation that has been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories.

Matty Roberts, Facebook originator of “Storm Area 51”

The plan adopted by the commission involves a music festival for 5,000 people in tiny Hiko, and projections by Connie West, owner of the Little A’le’Inn motel in Rachel for as many as 10,000 people camping on her property for another event in the town closest to Area 51.

Event organizers said there needs to be food, water and entertainment on hand to help people survive in the desert that’s a nearly three-hour drive from Las Vegas. Most conceded that cellphone service could be overwhelmed.

“We’ll give people something to do so they don’t run amok,” said George Harris, who plans to repurpose his Alien Research Center gift shop into a music venue off a road dubbed Extraterrestrial Highway.

West said she has 700 camping reservations so far, and will allow eight people per campsite. She also plans to collect parking fees to pay for security and medical personnel, and turn away people who bring guns or drugs to her event dubbed “Alienstock.”

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