PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Skeptics and believers alike will ‘make contact’ in McMinnville this weekend to celebrate McMenamin’s 21st Annual UFO Fest.

The out-of-this-world two-day event is the second-largest in the nation, offering live music, vendor booths, a ‘cosmic costume contest’, and speaker presentations.

Hosted by McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon, the festival began as a way to pay homage to the famous Trent sightings of 1950, where two local residents outside McMinnville photographed what is currently regarded as some of the most credible images of UFO’s.

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UFO Trent sighting Telephone Register (KOIN)

Dr. Michael P. Masters, a professor of biological anthropology at Montana Technological University, told KOIN 6 News the combination of festivities and scientific discussion are what makes the event unique.

“The UFO Festival in McMinnville is a great opportunity for people to come together and open their minds to some of these possibilities,” stated Dr. Masters.

Dr. Masters, author of Identified Flying Objects is one of several speakers slated to present over the weekend. Seminar tickets remain available online at the McMenamin’s website.

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UFO Festival McMinnville (KOIN)

“The UFO question has evolved tremendously over recent times,” Dr. Masters explained. “So it now turns to scientists, academics, and people in the private sector to begin figuring out what this is.”

This year’s event is expected to draw a large crowd as it comes just months after the highly anticipated Pentagon report acknowledging the existence of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).

The image from video provided by the Department of Defense labelled Gimbal, from 2015, an unexplained object is seen at center as it is tracked as it soars high along the clouds, traveling against the wind.(Department of Defense via AP)

“The Pentagon report and the acknowledgement by the US government that this is a real phenomenon does change things substantially,” said Dr. Masters. “I think there is going to be more interest from people who may not have taken it seriously before.”

Dr. Masters told KOIN 6 News as sightings become confirmed the stigma surrounding UFOs and UAP begins to decrease. “I’m hopeful this UFO festival will start to bring out more people who are interested in this phenomenon, but who may have not been able to talk about it or be part of an event like this previously.”

McMenamin’s is prioritizing safety ahead of the anticipated turnout, cancelling this year’s parade and requiring masks for guests 5-and-older. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test must be shown by patrons 12-and-up to participate in indoor activities.