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CEDAR CITY — If you’re into the supernatural, you should know that UFO culture isn’t alien to Utah.
The third annual Utah UFO Festival takes place this Friday and Saturday at Main Street Park, which is at 200 North Main St. in Cedar City. The festivities start at 2:30 p.m. Friday and continue all day Friday, through 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Admission is free for the event, which will feature speakers and panels relating to extraterrestrials, UFOs and the supernatural.
Nathan Cowlishaw, the festival’s founder, said he started the event to unify people.
“We’re trying to bring people together with something that’s fun, that’s imaginative, that brings together people to celebrate the culture of the American southwest,” he said.
The first year of the festival drew a few hundred spectators, while last year’s event had more than 1,000, Cowlishaw said.
A number of guest speakers and panelists will be at the festival, as well as a raffle, a costume contest for humans and pets, a car show and several other events, Cowlishaw said.
The lineup includes Travis Walton, a former logger who was allegedly abducted in northern Arizona in 1975. Appearing with him is Steve Pierce, a man who was working with Walton in 1975.
Walton’s disappearance is the subject of the 1993 film “Fire In The Sky.” He also spoke at the festival in its first year, but Cowlishaw said he’s happy to welcome Walton back.
Also at the festival will be former CIA employee Paul H. Smith, who will speak about remote viewing and military intelligence. Other guests include filmmaker Jeremy Corbell and representatives from the Phoenix chapter of MUFON, or Mutual UFO Network.
Corbell currently is working on a documentary about the Sherman Ranch site in Uintah County, which is also known as the Skinwalker Ranch, Cowlishaw said.
Festival organizers have arranged to donate 55 percent of the proceeds to Iron County Care and Share, Cowlishaw said. La Quinta and Clarion hotels, which are sponsoring the festival, came up with the idea, he said.
“To my knowledge, we are the only charitably-driven UFO festival,” he said.
A raffle held at the festival will benefit the charity, he said.
Cowlishaw said he hopes that Utah can become a top spot for extraterrestrial culture. He thinks Cedar City, which is just hours away from Area 51 in Nevada, can compete with New Mexico.
Southern Utah is a prime location, and with millions of tourists pouring in from across the globe each year to go to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, the area has a lot to offer, he said.
“There’s potential here,” Cowlishaw said. “It seems like a no-brainer. Nothing brings out the show business and the filmmakers and that culture like a good UFO fest.”