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Out of this world: Visitors pack the Roswell UFO Festival

(NewsNation) — Independence Day isn’t the only thing to celebrate this weekend. Thousands are landing in Roswell, New Mexico, for its annual UFO festival. 

This year, more people than ever are expected to descend on the desert in southeastern New Mexico for the stellar event. Organizers are telling enthusiasts to prepare for an out-of-this-world experience. 

Roswell, the UFO capital of the world, is home to roughly 46,000 people. This weekend for the festival, some officials are expecting that number to double. 

In recent years, turnout for the festival has grown, and this year’s expected to be no different. 

Roswell has been at the center of UFO theories for decades. The infamous Roswell incident took place in 1947 when military personnel said they were in possession of a “flying disc” after a local rancher discovered strange debris on his land. Some people think the disc was a UFO, and the government may have covered up the incident by saying it was an Army weather balloon that crashed.

The subject of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) is in the spotlight as legislators continue to push for more transparency on the issue. It’s been nearly a year since whistleblower David Grusch stepped forward with claims the Pentagon has been operating a secret UFO retrieval program. Despite repeated denials from the Defense Department, there is still skepticism that the agency is being fully transparent. 

Some Roswell residents say Grusch’s interview with NewsNation is changing some of the conversations happening at the festival. The event officially begins Friday and features different speakers on UFOs, panels, costume contests and family-friendly activities.