Updated September 19, 2019 - 10:13 pm
RACHEL — As the first musical act got underway at 8 p.m. Thursday, Little A’Le’Inn co-owner Connie West felt a sense of accomplishment.
No, attendees at the first night of Alienstock hadn’t seen any extraterrestrial life, but seeing the event pop off was out of this world.
“I’m fabulous; I can’t even describe it,” West said. “This is the highest high I’ve ever been in my life. They said we couldn’t do it, and I did it. We did it.”
The event happened after much controversy, as Storm Area 51 event creator Matty Roberts pulled out of appearing at the event in favor of one in downtown Las Vegas a week before the event was slated to occur.
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) September 20, 2019
The event went on as planned thanks to people pulling together and donating their time to the cause.
“It’s been overwhelming in the most amazing way,” West said. “I’m just elevated with it. I’ve never been the recipient of this much support in my life.”
With Day 1 down, there are two more to go in Alienstock, and West believes the event will get better as the days go on.
“I’m expecting to have a fabulous time,” she said. “I think everybody is coming together. They’re meeting people, they’re making life-long friendships, and I think as much as we wanted in anticipation for today, I think tomorrow might even be better.”
— Mick Akers
Rain, wind can’t stop Storm Area 51 first official event
RACHEL — There’s just no stopping Alienstock.
Or, as it was rechristened for the event’s security uniforms after the rights to the name were called into question, A’Le’Inn Stock.
A cold front moved in Thursday afternoon, sending festivalgoers scrambling for sweatshirts and coats. A light rain dampened the campground. A gust of wind ripped the covering from the stage — after the volunteer crew spent most of the day wrestling it into place.
And that doesn’t even take into account the disarray last week that threatened the festival’s very existence.
But at 7:55 p.m. — five minutes ahead of schedule — Will Shamberger and Wily Savage took the stage for a jam session.
It was the first official event of the gathering — whatever you want to call it.
And while the campers straggling in from their tents and RVs might have numbered in the dozens, Little A’Le’Inn co-owner Connie West beamed as she hugged friends and family members.
Posted: 8:54 p.m.
— Christopher Lawrence
Business slower than expected ahead of Storm Area 51
ASH SPRINGS — Andrea Barker took all the necessary precautions.
She stocked up on Oreos and water and put out tiny alien figurines and bumper stickers for would-be shoppers of her antiques store, Wild Rose Junktiques. She even had a cowboy hat with antennae.
But the crush of enthusiastic revelers never came on Thursday.
“I think this is going to be the event that never happened,” Barker said.
The water remained packaged. The Oreos were still sealed and sitting in a pile with a sticky note on top: $5 for a small bag, $6 for a large bag.
When she first heard about the alien festivities scheduled for this weekend, Barker thought it was unwise because of the remote location. But at some point, she started looking forward to the weekend.
“If you have to be here to protect, you might as well make it a good time.”
Thursday didn’t live up to the hype, though. At least not at Barker’s business.
“I’m actually relieved because I came to live in the middle of nowhere because I like quiet,” she said.
Posted: 7:14 p.m.
— Blake Apgar
Cold front brings new meaning to storming Area 51
RACHEL — Those hoping to see some UFOs didn’t get that chance Thursday afternoon, but a large dust devil and stormy conditions did have people looking toward the sky.
A cold front began to move through the Rachel area early Thursday afternoon kicking up winds, with gusts up to 35 mph and bringing some light rain, according to Ashley Wolfe, National Weather Service meteorologist.
“The storm is moving through right now actually,” Wolfe said. “The winds are picking up and are at at about 30 mph and changed to the west. With that cold front the temperature dropped. Earlier he took a reading of 75 degrees and as of about a half hour ago it dropped down to 62 degrees.”
The weather service has a meteorologist embedded with the emergency management team, keeping tabs on the area as thousands of people are expected to invade the area over the next few days.
Rain chances will continue over the next few hours, but no major accumulation is expected.
Earlier in the day, a massive dust devil kicked up, blowing right through the Alienstock festival grounds. Later, the wind shifted direction, making a repeat chance unlikely, Wolfe said.
“We did get a video of a pretty decent dust devil, it was probably one of the better ones I’ve seen in the almost three years I’ve been here,” she said. “But as far as we can tell it didn’t impact anything, so that is good.”
Posted: 6:13 p.m.
— Mick Akers
Missouri couple not new to storming Area 51
RACHEL — The Little A’Le’Inn bumper sticker on their RV was freshly applied.
Missouri retirees Rob and Judy (last names aren’t always given freely this close to Area 51) aren’t newbies. They just happened to find it on the floor of their camper this week, a reminder of a previous visit.
The two of them stormed the gates before it was ever a thing, Judy says.
The couple — former hippies turned conservatives — left their home near Kansas City on Aug. 28, swung through Washington state to visit friends and turned up in front of the Little A’Le’Inn on Tuesday. After their RV sat in front of the bar most of the day, they say they were allowed to choose their own camping spot, before the lots were even marked.
“We’re not believers, and we’re not disbelievers,” Rob says, their dog Maxine at his heels. But they have been to alien hot spot Roswell, New Mexico, a couple of times, too — as well as some parts near Area 51 they probably shouldn’t have visited.
“I have a little theory,” Judy says, “that it’s possible that the government’s just done so many horrible, bad things that they’re, like, brainwashing people to believe in aliens, just so they can cover up all the crappy things they’ve done out here to the land.”
Posted: 4:55 p.m.
— Christopher Lawrence
Michigan group sees money to be made from Area 51 visitors
RACHEL — A group just on the outskirts of Alienstock in Rachel is taking advantage of a situation thrust upon them.
Amanda Ripley and her family came from Michigan to Rachel to property the family owns looking to make a quick buck.
The group has set out tables to sell everything from alien blowup dolls to sleeping bags, air mattresses and heaters.
“People have already said they need things,” Ripley said. “’Oh my gosh I need a tent and I passed Walmart, are there any there?’ So I know for a fact people are going to be needing things like this.”
The group also is selling parking and camping spaces to those who don’t want to park within the festival grounds.
After a four-day trip, the group arrived in Rachel earlier this week, ready to have a great time and maybe make some money along the way.
“When we found out about the festival it was road time,” Ripley said. “There’s money to be made here. It’s an awesome event with like-minded people coming in and you’re able to share your ideas and beliefs and not be criticized for them.”
Posted: 4:32 p.m.
— Mick Akers
Area 51 visitors will have vendors ready to serve
ASH SPRINGS — Carlos Gomez, catering director for Las Vegas Mexican restaurant Ricardo’s, brought a crew to set up outside Green Valley Grocery — the last stop for fuel between Las Vegas and Rachel. He said his team is helping to serve the anticipated influx of visitors over the weekend.
He came prepared to serve 3,500 meals over the next four days. Thursday, he said, started “a little quiet,” but he acknowledged that it’s early.
“It’s a real light, steady flow,” he said.
Gomez’s crew is going to stay in a camper all weekend outside the gas station, he said. If they run out of food, he is ready to make the trip back to Las Vegas to pick up more.
“Come out here, have a good time, you know,” he said. “Listen to some music, have a cold beer. Why not? Stay safe.”
Posted: 2:08 p.m.
— Blake Apgar
Area 51 Basecamp attendees can get extraterrestrial memento
HIKO — Area 51 Basecamp is going to provide attendees the chance to get a memento that will forever remind them of their extraterrestrial experience.
The Storm Area 51 event in Hiko is going to feature an RV with Goodfella’s Tattoo & Piercing Co., where festivalgoers can get some ink to go along with their good time, according to Keith Wright, executive producer of the event.
“They’ll get the chance to get a tattoo as close to Area 51 as you’re going to get,” Wright said. “It will definitely be something to say you got a tattoo at the original Basecamp event.”
Wright said he’s shooting for 5,000 attendees coming to the event each day, but with the recent addition of DJ Paul Oakenfold, that number could rise.
“He’s going to come out here and do a one-hour set here in the desert,” Wright said. “That’s one of things, from Las Vegas or the surrounding area, honestly that might drive me out because the opportunity to see Paul Oakenfold in an environment like this is a very unique opportunity. So there’s a real possibility that it will drive (more people).”
Posted: 1:17 p.m.
— Mick Akers
Festive atmosphere at Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel
RACHEL — The breakfast rush is on at the Little A’Le’Inn.
It’s the last meal the restaurant will serve this weekend — it’s closing soon, the rest of the food will be handled by vendors at Alienstock — and the kitchen is down to just biscuits and gravy.
The atmosphere is festive, and no one seems to care.
One visitor pulls up a chair next to a stranger and announces that he brought plenty of weed and plans to spend the weekend partying.
Co-owner Connie West is behind the bar, handling drinks, cashing out breakfast orders and asking an arriving camper to sit tight until she can get him parked.
“Just gimme a few minutes,” she patiently explains. “This is my first show.”
The assembled diners burst into grateful applause.
Posted: 1054 a.m.
— Christopher Lawrence
‘We’re here to meet some people and have a good time’
Guests will still be able to access their motel rooms, all of which are booked, but once the last egg comes off the grill visitors attending the Alienstock festival will no longer be able to make their way inside to check out the alien-themed motif.
Jared Sheldon, from Oklahoma City, met up with his friend Dustin Goodwin, from Houston, before making the trek to Rachel, stopping at towns known for alien activity on the way.
“Stopped in Roswell checked that out a little bit, in Winslow, Arizona, met up with somebody who had his own sightings before and then Las Vegas and here last night,” Sheldon said. “My friend has an app that points out where people talk about sightings.”
They duo wanted to catch the last meal at the inn and take in the environment before they were delegated to the outside for the rest of the weekend.
“It’s pretty interesting that they’re closing down, I’m glad I got to check it out,” Sheldon said. “It’s pretty cool, the alien-themed stuff I’ll eat and maybe buy some stuff, it’s cool.”
Sheldon said they aren’t into the proposed storming event or even the scheduled musical acts, they just wanted to be part of whatever the gathering turns out to be.
“We’re here to meet some people and have a good time,” he said.
Posted: 8:48 a.m.
— Mick Akers