The Area 51 Festival Alienstock Is Coming Back for More Because the Storm Rages On

Rachel E. Greenspan

Alienstock, the eclectic and unique Area 51-themed music festival held in a tiny Nevada town near the imagination-captivating Air Force base last September, was just the beginning.

That appears to be the next move by Connie West, the owner of Little A’Le’Inn, the only business in Rachel, Nevada. The inn and restaurant’s website was updated to show that West is planning a second annual alien extravaganza, for Sept. 10-12.

As of Tuesday morning, the website doesn’t have any more information beyond the scheduled dates, and West did not immediately return TIME’s request for comment.

While residents feared that upwards of 25,000 attendees might roll through for the first festival in September, the guest list peaked at 3,000, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

“It was honestly breathtaking,” Matthew Carswell, 22, who travelled from Miami to Nevada for Alienstock, told TIME after the September event. “It was a really good atmosphere.”

The event was mostly peaceful. But the news of another event may come as a bit of surprise for many, as the first Alienstock was not without controversy. “I can’t wait until it’s over,” she told TIME in a phone interview last August ahead of the program. Other people living in the town — which has fewer than 100 residents — felt the same.

It all began in summer 2019 when college student Matty Roberts posted a massively viral Facebook event encouraging Area 51 conspiracy theorists and meme makers alike to “Storm Area 51,” because “They Can’t Stop All of Us,” and spend a September weekend in Rachel, roughly 27 miles north of the U.S. military base that has long been considered a mecca for extra-terrestrial believers.

The Facebook event had millions of people interested, and Roberts decided to follow through (at first), partnering with West to bring it all to life.

“The locals are not on board, nobody asked us, and we don’t appreciate anyone threatening to take over our town,” Joerg Arnu, a property owner in Rachel since 2003 who runs the town website, told TIME last summer prior to the event. “I’ll do anything in my power to prevent this.”

A town sign is posted, mentioning aliens, during the 'Storm Area 51' spinoff event 'Alienstock' on September 21, 2019 in Rachel, Nevada. | Mario Tama—Getty Images

At the time, West felt similarly, but she agreed to help facilitate the event on her property. “I’m just as terrified as they are. I live here too, and I’m just doing my best,” West said.

Now that it looks like Alienstock 2.0 may come to Rachel again next fall, Arnu says he’s feeling concerned yet again. “I am really disgusted with this,” he told TIME on Tuesday afternoon.

At the next Lincoln County board of commissioners meeting at the beginning of March, Arnu plans to call attention to the proposed festival, which he says cost the county thousands of dollars last year (including traffic controllers and medical personnel). Though attendees of the original Alienstock have said they had a blast, Arnu says the feeling was not the same for residents. “All of my friends, we don’t want this. We don’t want this to happen again,” he says.

Above all, his reasoning is simple. “We all moved here because we wanted peace and quiet,” he explains. Now, he says, instead of passing only one or two vehicles on the highway en route to Rachel, there’s “a lot more traffic.”

While speaking with TIME last summer, ahead of the festival, Roberts had compared this new music festival to Burning Man, which is also held in Nevada annually. “It’s exciting and it’s cool for everyone involved,” he told TIME.

But he soon changed direction, deciding the risks of holding such a big festival in a small town with minimal infrastructure and cell service were too high in his view. So Roberts and his crew took their plans to a separate festival in Las Vegas, but the “Storm Area 51” zealots couldn’t stay away from Rachel. West took over at the helm of the project.

However the event shapes up, fans of last year’s event can start getting excited.