LINCOLN COUNTY — Officials looking over the pair of Storm Area 51 festivals still don’t know what to expect as the first day of events is set to kick off.
Alienstock in Rachel begins Thursday night and runs through Sunday while Area 51 Basecamp in Hiko occurs Friday and Saturday with a solid number on expected attendees still up in the air.
The area was thrust into the national spotlight in June, thanks to a Facebook post encouraging people to storm the secretive Air Force base commonly known as Area 51 — long rumored to house extraterrestrial technology — to “see them aliens.” It later morphed into the two alien-themed events.
The plans are six weeks in the making and Lincoln County Emergency Manager Eric Holt believes they are prepared to handle whatever is to come.
“We’re in coordination with several other operators to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors to the area,” he said.
There are three command posts set up, one central incident command post in Tickaboo with one located at each of the events. Based on how many people actually show up, as the county as been told anywhere between 5,00 and 50,000, the around 300 first responders based at the stations could change.
“We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” he said. “If we don’t get the numbers for what we’re prepared for we can send some of the resource home. If we need it we can have it.”
With some attendees showing up for Alienstock on Wednesday night, Holt said the first night was peaceful and uneventful.
Traffic is the biggest concern as some congestion is expected over the weekend, Lincoln County Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee said.
“We’re preparing for a lot,” Higbee said. “The Nevada Department of Transportation has four crews up here, and our sheriff’s department and the Nevada Highway Patrol are patrolling the road. We’re prepared.”
A red flag warning is in effect, with no campfires or fireworks allowed on Bureau of Land Management property in the surrounding area.
The biggest issue for festivalgoers could be the wildlife that calls the desert area home.
Everything from snakes, insects, and cows can be found in the area and each one provides different dangers.
“It is a desert, everything out here will sting you, bite you or poke you,” Higbee said. “So be prepared.”
Motorists should be wary of cattle crossing the road as the area Route 375 runs through is open range. Lincoln County Commissioner Jared Brackenbury also cautioned against going up to the cows either.
“We’ve got a lot of domestic cattle out here,” Brackenbury said. “Don’t mess with the ranchers’ cattle. The rancher might be more of a snake than the rattlesnake.”