Yelm embraces its ‘woo-woo’ reputation with UFO festival and symposium

Yelm UFO Fest: An out-of-this-world event

The two-part Fri-Sunday event includes a Cosmic Symposium in an air-conditioned tent where UFO experts will be presenting and a festival featuring live music, various carney tent shows, hot air balloon rides and other family fun.
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The two-part Fri-Sunday event includes a Cosmic Symposium in an air-conditioned tent where UFO experts will be presenting and a festival featuring live music, various carney tent shows, hot air balloon rides and other family fun.

Olympia has Lakefair. Shelton has OysterFest. And Yelm has this weekend’s UFO Festival.

The second annual event, part free music festival and part paid symposium on space aliens and other out-of-the-mainstream topics, celebrates the city’s reputation as home to a wide array of people with a wide array of beliefs.

“It’s a beautiful way to embrace diversity under the umbrella of welcoming the aliens and anything else that is not the same old same old,” said organizer Cameron Jayne, director of arts at Yelm’s Triad Arts Theater. “Yelm is known as a woo-woo community, so I figured we might as well play it up.”

“It’s very funny,” said James Flick of Tenino, who played original tunes with his wife, Krista “Kissy” Flick, at last year’s festival and will play again Saturday. “It’s just perfect for the town of Yelm.”

Aliens will abound — believe it or not. Costumed ones, including a version of “E.T.” from the 1982 film, will chat with kids, and more will be on parade at noon Sunday, led by Olympia’s Artesian Rumble Arkestra, dressed for the occasion.

“They’re like a fusion of galaxy music and New Orleans and reggae all combined together,” Jayne told The Olympian. “And each person is a character unto themselves visually. It’s just a sight to behold.”

The beer garden serves Fish Brewing Co.’s Alien Pale Ale, available only at the festival, and the play area features a bounce house shaped like a flying saucer.

On Saturday, even earthlings will take to the skies — in a tethered hot-air balloon that will arrive at 6 p.m. (Tickets to ride are sold out, but a pair will be raffled off as part of a fundraiser for the historic theater.)

Even some of the bands — including Brush Prairie’s Kirby Swatosh and the Moon Rock Patrol (noon-12:45 p.m. Saturday) — have out-of-this-world names. The lineup also includes Portland didgeridoo-enhanced power trio Urban Shaman (8-10 p.m. Friday and 3:15-5:10 p.m. Saturday), the aforementioned Kissy Flick (5:30-6 p.m. Saturday) and Olympia blues band Hurts Like Hell (7:15-8:45 p.m. Saturday).

But the local and regional musicians won’t be the festival’s only luminaries, Jayne said. Speakers at the Cosmic Symposium are “the rock stars of this new millennium,” she said.

Unidentified flying objects, aliens and other creatures and out-there concepts will be covered at the symposium, which will happen in an air-conditioned tent on the festival grounds.

Speakers will include Kerry Cassidy, who has attributed last summer’s California wildfires to a space-based weapon; rocket-builder David Adair; and the filmmakers who created 2014’s “The Maury Island Incident,” about a reported UFO sighting over the island near Vashon.

The festival — and Jayne herself — makes space for all of it, for movie aliens as well as reported close encounters.

“There’s two types of science that I believe in,” she said. “The one science is based on evidence and facts and numbers and empiricism. The other one is experiential science. If an actual Sasquatch walks onto your property and eats dinner with you and you’re not drinking, you’re not high, that would be experiential science.

“A lot of people have experienced and seen a lot of things,” she added. “Just because you’re not allowed to prove it with evidence doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

Several volunteers saw unidentified objects in the skies above the inaugural fest last summer, she said. The fest website includes an enlarged digital photo that appears to show a cluster of lights hovering near the sun.

“We put that on the poster,” she said. “We say, ‘This is the one UFO festival where the UFOs actually show up.’ ”

UFO Festival

What: Yelm, where one of the first reported sightings of a unidentified flying object occurs, celebrates its out-there past and present with music, alien-themed rides, a hot-air balloon, a parade and more.

When: 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday; parade at noon Sunday

Where: Prairie Park Lane Southeast, Yelm (near the Yelm Cinemas and Yelm Timberland Library)

Tickets: Free admission to the festival, with charges for some kids’ activities

More information: yelmufofest.com, mothership@yelmufofest.com

Cosmic Symposium

What: The symposium brings together speakers on UFOs, alien encounters and related subjects.

When: 4-10:30 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: In an air-conditioned tent on the festival grounds

Tickets: $200 for a weekend pass (excluding breakfast events) or $25 per lecture. While supplies last, $150 passes are available through Thursday evening; use code “Early Bird.”

Additional events:

  • Breakfast with self-described “alien experiencer” Simon Parkes, who’ll attend via Skype: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Triad Arts Theater, 102 E. Yelm Ave, Yelm. $35.
  • Breakfast with Kerry Cassidy, whose Project Camelot covers conspiracies and extraterrestrials, and other symposium guests: 9 a.m. Sunday, Mr. Doug’s, 210 NE 103rd Ave., Yelm. $35.