Every year, thousands of visitors flock to McMinnville, a quiet Willamette Valley town located an hour southwest of Portland, to attend the city’s famous UFO Festival. Second in popularity only to the UFO festival in Roswell, New Mexico, Oregon’s annual celebration features days full of parades, costume contests, expert speakers and family fun.
History of the UFO Festival
In June 1947 — a month before the legendary Roswell crash — pilot Kenneth Arnold claimed that he saw a fleet of silvery objects traveling at supersonic speed near Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle. An article about the sighting in the East Oregonian coined the term “flying saucers” and triggered a surge of UFO reports across the country.
Three years later, Evelyn and Paul Trent of McMinnville snapped what are widely considered to be the first photos of a UFO in the United States. The photos caused a firestorm when they were published in newspapers worldwide — to this day, they are considered some of the most credible UFO photos ever taken.
Founded in 1999, the McMenamins UFO Festival began as a way to honor the famous 1950 Trent sighting and has evolved into an epic celebration of all things extraterrestrial.
Check out the landmarks that inspired the characters and places in “The Simpsons,” created by Portland’s own Matt Groening.
The PDX Adult Soapbox Derby at Mt. Tabor Park pits grown-up kids against each other every August in pursuit of speed and laughs.
Get your camera ready for these stunning examples of street art.
UFO Festival Events
The family-friendly UFO Festival includes two days of special events, including live music, expert speaker panels, a pet alien costume contest and more. Past events have included:
- A Costume Contest where Earthbound aliens can wow the judges;
- A glow-in-the-dark light Landing Party with live music;
- A Vendor Fair held by Mcminnville Downtown Association
- The festival’s epic Costume Ball, where hundreds of humans dance the night away in out-of-this-world, alien-themed costumes.
- A UFO Costume Parade that careens and cartwheels through town.
Head to the UFO Festival website to see all of this year’s scheduled events.
UFO Festival Speakers
Over the festival’s nearly two decades, featured speakers have run the gamut from authors, filmmakers and investigators to crop circle experts, Bigfoot hunters and alien implant removal specialists.
Past speakers have included Deep Prasad, a 23-year-old physicist and CEO of ReactiveQ who works in quantum technology; Joanne Clarkson, a psychic medium who has been years investigating UFOs; and Alejandro Rojas, Director of Operations for UFO news site Open Minds Production.
Attending the UFO Festival
The UFO Festival is hosted by the historic McMenamins Hotel Oregon, located 40 miles (64 km) southwest of downtown Portland. Many events are free; visitors can purchase VIP passes for special speaker events.
Was this page helpful?