Back in Eugene from McMinnville, Oregon, where Jim and I (Jim is "George" who's finally let me use his real name on-line) spent the weekend at the UFO Festival there. This year's festival was much better than last year's. I had a fine time last year, but it was also short and stressed; the speakers were interesting but not particularly engaging, the venue was cramped and hot, the constant clanging of the ancient cash register was irritating, etc.
This year, Jim and I had the whole weekend to enjoy ourselves, we remembered our camera, the lectures were held in the community center which was larger and much cooler than the space last year; much improved. And last but not least: the speakers Robert Nicol, who made the crop circle film Star Dreams, and Richard Dolan were excellent!
The title of Dolan's presentation was The Challenge of Full Disclosure. I'll be writing more on what he had to say in a future article. One thing he said that I want to share here, for now, is about the evidence; the documents (for there are documents!) "beg to be understood and analyzed" and he encourages others to work in this area of UFO research. As he said, he doesn't want to be the "only one" doing this stuff.
One other point about Dolan's presentation: he offered his opinions, but he also had no problem in presenting ideas and questions as well, and saying he didn't know or have answers. He also encouraged us to question and to just . . . think on these theories and directions. That's one thing in particular I appreciated about his talk; he didn't tell us what the "Great Big Truth" was, because he doesn't know anymore than you or I do. He has interesting ideas about where it's all taking us, but that's different than telling us it's "The Truth."
Jim and I sat in the front row, and had made plans to meet up with the Dolans when they arrived. It was great to meet Karyn in person. (Karyn Dolan has her own radio program on the Paranormal Radio Network, and contributes to Women Of Esoterica.) Their children came with them; who are also both very nice and obviously smart young people. (And what a great life; traveling around the country with two parents who are into all this stuff!) Anyway, it was a fun, interesting evening, even though I completely forgot to introduce Jim! The poor man is standing there; I felt like a jerk, Fortunately, he forgave me. And then I turned around and did the same thing the next day at lunch, when Richard joined us!
Richard Dolan, me, Jim, and Karyn Dolan at Hotel Oregon in McMinnville.
After the parade, where Richard as Grand Marshall and Karyn and children led the way (we sat by a large window, sipping cold ale, a nice way to enjoy things!) they joined us for lunch in the McMenamins Hotel Oregon (where we also stayed) which sponsors the UFO Festival. McMenamins is known for restoring old buildings and turning them into hotels, pubs, etc. and putting on all kinds of music, film and other festivals in Oregon and Washington. One of the very cool things they do is hire artists to paint paintings on trim, moldings, the walls, the doors, everywhere. The place is full of surreal, enchanting art, vintage photographs and antiques.
Both Richard and Karyn said the McMinnville UFO Festival (not conference; there's a difference, Richard said) was probably the most enjoyable, just for being fun and informal, as well as friendly.
I asked Richard and Karyn what makes a UFO conference a good one for the speaker. Richard said it was a combination of things; the organization, the types of speakers, and the location. Karyn and Richard both said many times how much they enjoyed this conference and the area in general. McMinnville is a small college town, with an old town atmosphere. (Except for the sprawl on the outskirts of the town, which is ugly as it is anywhere.) It's in wine country, and very pretty. The McMinnville area is quirky and fun and low key and the setting is perfect for a UFO Festival.
Richard said big city conferences are more "serious," some conferences, like the International UFO Congress in Laughlin where Richard spoke in February, are surrounded by casinos which brings a different vibe and type of people. Karyn said that having down time is welcome before having to speak. Sometimes they get into town, and have to get to the presentation right away which makes things hectic.
The X-Conference in March was one that they enjoyed very much, but it was also much different than McMinnville: more speakers, much larger. Another point about conferences, Karyn mentioned, was that there's often so much going on you can't get to it all, particularly if you're presenting.
We had a great conversation about all kinds of things, from crop circles to Bigfoot to ... you name it. About UFO conferences, Richard commented,"there's a difference between a UFO 'festival' and 'conferences.'" Conference are generally more serious, or straight forward -- not to say McMinnville isn't -- conferences aren't as laid back and informal. After all, the McMinnville UFO Festival includes a UFO Parade, alien costume ball, live music, and old time radio reenactments.
Karyn said the McMinnville Festival reminded her of Roswell, just not as hot, although, lately, it seemed to her there's an undercurrent of "desperation" with the Roswell Festival, a push to be fiscally successful. Also, according to both Richard and Karyn, it's hot, hot, hot there. It was in the high 80's in McMinnville, a bit unusual for the time of year -- last year it rained -- but it was tolerable. Lots of great McMenamins micro brews helped with that though!
After McMinnville, the Dolans leave on Monday for the MUFON LA conference in Studio City, California. In June, Richard and Kayrn will be at the Conspiracy Con conference in Santa Clara, California June 7th and 8th. (I would love to go to that one!) And, both Richard and Karyn will be speaking at the Roswell Festival in July.
Finally, something about McMinnville itself, as the location of the UFO Festival. It was in McMinnville, in 1950, that Paul and Evelyn Trent saw and took two photographs of, a UFO. That case made world news and is a classic in UFO history.
I mentioned McMennamin's restoring old buildings and using artists in their work. Whenever the McMenamin's take over a building, they try to keep as much of the history of that place as they can. The Hotel Oregon has names for all of its rooms, many which have to do with historical people associated with the town or hotel. They also have a Bill Powell room, the editor of McMinnville's Telephone-Register newspaper, who broke the Trent story, the Bruce Maccabee room, the UFO Room, which is decorated with Trent UFO historical information, and a painting of Evelyn Trent with her rabbits, looking up at the UFO above their farm in 1950.
Next year's McMinnville UFO Festival's main speaker will be Linda Moulton Howe. And yes, we're already booked!
For information on the McMinnville UFO festival, visit UFOFest.com
Evelyn Trent painting: Hotel Oregon, McMinnville (artist unknown?)
Photographs property of Regan Lee