McMinnville Holds Annual UFO Fest

Owen covers the 24th annual McMenamins UFO Festival in McMinnville, Oregon. 

On May 18, thousands of people gathered in downtown McMinnville, Oregon, for the McMenamins UFO Festival parade. The parade is one of the highlights of the UFO Festival. The two-day event also includes speaker presentations, costume contests, fun runs, a street fair, and an alien costume ball.

The festival takes place about 40 miles southwest of Portland because of a reported UFO (unidentified flying object) sighting in the area. In 1950, Evelyn and Paul Trent claimed to have witnessed a mysterious disc-shaped object in the sky outside McMinnville. Evelyn spotted the disc while feeding the rabbits and chickens on the family’s farm.

Paul took two photos of the object. They were published in newspapers and magazines around the world, gaining international fame. To this day, UFO enthusiasts debate whether the sighting was real.

McMenamins, a family-owned chain of hotels and pubs in Oregon and Washington, began hosting UFO Fest in 2000, after a historian researched the Trent photos.

“It was the 50th anniversary of the sighting, so they decided to make an event out of it,” said Renee Rank Ignacio, director of marketing for McMenamins. The initial gathering at the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville was such a success that UFO Fest has taken place every year since.

“It’s a time for the community to come together in celebration of this historic event, but also to have a whole lot of fun,” Ignacio said. 


UFO Fest visitors enjoyed a weekend of UFO-themed activities. 


At the parade, people of all ages lined the streets to watch the colorful floats, marching bands, and alien costumes. The smells of the sushi and funnel cake mixed with those from hot mini donuts and foot-long corndogs.

What did the parade-goers think about the existence of aliens and UFOs? Meghan O’Loughlin of Newberg, Oregon, said that she believes there is intelligent life beyond our planet. 

“If we have life on Earth, there’s got to be in our giant galaxy something else alive somewhere,” O’Loughlin said. 

Sandra Hughes of McMinnville said that she doesn’t really believe in aliens. But, she added, she keeps an open mind. ““It’s what they say,” Hughes told me. “I’m not sure, but it would be amazing.”



Photos courtesy of the author