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Nye County shoots down plan for UFO festival tied to Area 51

Updated August 20, 2019 - 8:09 pm

A group looking to stage its own “Storm Area 51”-inspired event was denied a permit Tuesday by Nye County officials.

The Nye County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 to deny an outdoor festival license for the so-called Peacestock 51 event, which was slated to be held on 47 acres of land in Amargosa Valley.

Commissioners raised various concerns in denying the permit, including the safety of Amargosa Valley residents, possible environmental impacts from the event and the remoteness of the site.

“There’s gonna be people probably running out of gas and are probably going to get stuck in the lousy road that’s there,” Commissioner John Koenig said. “We have neighbors here that are really unhappy. Personally, I sit here because these people elected me. These people are No. 1 on my list. Their safety, their convenience and their welfare. Everything else is secondary.”

Festival organizers David Van Der Beek and Bryan Scott presented the board with a plan of more than 50 pages that outlined security, medical services, and operations and said they hoped the event could become an annual UFO festival.

“It would be a phenomenal event,” Van Der Beek said. “We didn’t start this movement. We all thought Storm Area 51 was a joke, it is not and we’re not prepared for it. What is the plan for the community for the people who will come? There is no plan. … The whole intention of the festival is to remove people from harm’s way.”

The plan listed rappers Cypress Hill and rock band Sublime as headliners for the planned Sept. 20 festival.

The plan detailed a $760,000 budget to stage the event, including $300,000 for securing Cypress Hill and Sublime at $150,000 apiece. The other acts in the festival lineup would have been local bands from Clark and Nye counties.

Security services for the festival made up $188,000 of the budget. Another $60,000 was allocated for medical services for the festival, and $61,000 was budgeted for site preparations.

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said the event plan answered all the department’s safety questions, on paper. She also said that if the event were approved, she and other county officials would conduct a walk-through to ensure everything promised came to fruition.

Residents who live off White Road, the main road that would lead festivalgoers to the site, were concerned with the effects of a large crowd storming the area.

“I live out there, I’m just so scared of fire,” said a visibly upset Elnora White, whose father-in-law homesteaded the area and whom White Road is named after. “If we have a fire, I lose everything. Everything I have. My husband’s family homesteaded that land many years ago. All it would take is just one cigarette. One lousy cigarette.”

Other residents were concerned with dust and environmental concerns from having even a small group gathered in their rural area.

Commissioner Donna Cox, who voted against the permit, said the event could serve as a meeting point for those who might try to breach Area 51 land.

“I’m all for freedom and I do not believe in everything the federal government does, I don’t support them in most things. But in this particular event they want to put on, I think they’re showing total disrespect for these people out at the test site,” Cox said. “They’re absolutely going out there and are going to push their weight around and create a big problem.

“If I was you, I think in the best interest for the people, I would put something out that says, ‘This event has been canceled.’”

The denial comes a day after neighboring Lincoln County approved two separate events in Rachel and Hiko tied to the Storm Area 51 phenomenon.

Lincoln County officials also pre-signed a declaration of emergency to expedite the process if local resources are depleted during the possible three days for the pair of events.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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