Thousands of UFO enthusiasts will gather on American Indian land in Arizona this week but not in hopes of a mass abduction.
Believers, skeptics, scientists and media personalities come together each year for the International UFO Congress Convention and Film Festival, the largest of its kind, according to the event’s organizers.
The convention kicks off Wednesday morning at the We-Ko-Pa Resort and Convention Center in the Yawapai Nation, located in the Scottsdale area. This year marks the 24th annual incarnation of this particular convention. It runs until Sunday afternoon.
Each morning of the event, licensed therapists will host so-called experiencer sessions, wherein people who claim to have spotted UFOs or had direct contact with them convene together. These gatherings are the only part of the convention that are off-limits to media members.
This year’s slate of speakers includes Peabody Award-winning journalist George Knapp of the popular syndicated radio program “Coast to Coast AM,” which often focuses on paranormal subject matter. Knapp’s speech on Saturday night will cover the mysteries behind Area 51 and will include a Q&A with Bob Lazar, who supposedly worked on an alien spacecraft at the legendary site.
Other speakers will discuss topics such as the 200-year history of UFOs allegedly being seen in the skies over New York state. Another speaker will highlight the number of reported UFO crashes that have happened on the United States-Mexico border.
Perhaps the most disturbing lecture topic will examine thousands of bizarre cattle mutilations that have happened since the 1600s. According to materials from the International UFO Congress, speaker Christopher O’Brien “has slowly unraveled this enduring mystery” and “exposes startling new evidence linking many of these animal deaths to … a shadowy group with access to high technology.”
SyFy Channel host and paranormal investigator Ben Hansen will lead a night vision sky watch on Friday night, for attendees who hope to spot strange lights in the sky.
Other events at the convention include a UFO trivia game show.
Organizers of the event say they’ve been named the world’s largest UFO convention by the people at Guinness World Records. A spokesperson told the Scripps National Desk they had an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 attendees last year, but that this year is projected to be their biggest yet.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.