High above Yelm’s second annual UFO Fest, a hot air balloon will often be seen floating. 

“The first attempt to reach the stars was a hot air balloon,” said Cameron Jayne, artistic director for the Triad Theater, one of the groups putting UFO Fest II on. “What better way to celebrate that history, than to have it here, at UFO Fest?”

The hot air balloon rides will be tethered and cost $35 each.

LaDonna Hockaday, vendor coordinator, said that this year is going to be great. She wants to fill the whole field at Prairie Park Properties on July 27-29 with new and vibrant booths, games and food choices.

“I already have more than 65 vendors and 13 different food trucks,” Hockaday said. “I think [UFO Fest II] will be out of this world — even better than last year.”

There will be activities for children, like a maze, face painting, balloon animals, a magician and Reptile Man as well as great adult entertainment. To start, a person could have UFO pale ale in the beer garden, then head over to the main stage and listen to a plethora of live bands, lined up one after another.

There is also the Cosmic Symposium, where authorities on UFOs and similar subjects will be sharing their experiences and accomplishments. Each lecture costs $25 and a weekend pass costs $200 at an early-bird rate. 

Lecturers could be like Kerry Cassidy, who runs a successful YouTube channel, Project Camelot, that investigates topics like government conspiracies, the deep space program and black projects. Or a person could listen to David Adair, a scientist who won “Most Outstanding in the Field of Engineering” by the Air Force because of a rocket engine he designed. Among other lecturers, folks could also listen to Randy Cramer, a man who says he spent 20 years in a secret space program’s mission to Mars.

Jayne said that UFO Fest — a festival that celebrates the past, present and future of all UFO- and alien-related ideas — can best be enjoyed in a town like Yelm.

“This town is more open to new ideas and philosophy than any other town in all of the United States, I think,” Jayne said. “Even more so than San Francisco, because they’re more tied in one way only. In this town, there’s a plethora of ideas — from left to right, from up to down. We have an incredible amount of beliefs.”

However, being open to many different ideas can lead to many different groups, threatening to create a divided town rather than one that celebrates diversity, she said.

“We have a lot of little tribal groups like the RSE group, the Buddhist temple people, the churches, the scientists, the environmentalists and the artists,” Jayne said. “They all reside under the same roof of Yelm.”

But instead of bringing more divisiveness into Yelm, UFO Fest seeks to be a uniting agent, Jayne said.

“With all of these diversities, the goal of the Triad Theater is to unite all these tribes under one sanctuary of art, free speech and free expression,” Jayne said of the theater’s place in UFO Fest. “The theater embraces all facets of the community, and what better way to unite us than the thing that also tires us together — our history of UFOs.” 

That history is about a business man that saw something he couldn’t quite explain up around Mount Rainier, miles from Yelm.

“The first known record of someone claiming they saw flying saucers was by someone called Kenneth Arnold, and he reported this while going around Mount Rainier,” Jayne said. “He saw this fleet of UFOs flying through the clouds, and he reported it. So officially and historically, [this region] is known for the first recorded sighting of UFOS.”

Jayne said that people in Yelm are awakening to their heritage of UFOs.

“People are starting to get a different kind of consciousness — to step up their awareness — to maybe see that they don’t know everything that’s out there,” Jayne said. “And they’re becoming open to these ideas.”

Yet there is still so much that humans don’t know regarding UFOs and alien activity, she said.

“We have been kept in the dark as human beings for a long time,” Jayne said. “We are shining the light on things that have been kept in the dark. That’s what a theater does — it puts a spotlight on things and lets everyone enjoy and see what’s out there. That’s what we’re trying to do with UFO Fest.”

Ultimately though, Jayne just wants people to have a good time.

“We are taking this seriously, but we are also bringing humor, love and art to the festival, as well as science and different philosophies,” Jayne said. “Hopefully there is something for all.”

UFO Fest II will be put on by the Triad Theater, City of Yelm, the Prairie Hotel and Puget Sound Entertainment. Visit YelmUFOFest.com for more information. 

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