PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A space jam for the ages is returning to Oregon this weekend, complete with sci-fi film screenings, presentations from extraterrestrial experts and alien costume contests.

For the 23rd year, UFO Fest and the expanding community of people who believe in aliens are taking over the streets of McMinnville.

Dani Chisholm, district manager for McMenamins Historic Hotels and board president of the McMinnville Downtown Association, says the event was inspired by an alien sighting recorded decades ago.

In May 1950, Paul and Evelyn Trent were on their Sheridan farm when they saw what appeared to be a flying disc in the sky. Paul took a photo that he later had developed.

Then in June, local newspaper The Telephone Register published the photo that quickly spread the news from Sheridan to McMinnville, across Oregon and then throughout the entire nation.

“[McMenamins] always tries to look for some kind of local connection,” Chisholm said. “We’re a company that’s ingrained in history and music and art. And our lead historian Tim Hill stumbled across that article and the picture on the front page of the newspaper and thought, ‘Hey, I think we can do something with this.’”

So in 1999, the inaugural UFO Fest started as a single-speaker event hosted in McMenamins Hotel Oregon’s Paragon Room. Chisholm says the speaker completely packed the house, and crowds began to gather outside to hear the presentation.

McMenamins partnered with the McMinnville Downtown Association the following year to take the event to the next level.

This year, festival attendees can still travel to McMinnville to hear speakers like Sev Tok, author of You Have the Right to Talk to Aliens, Mutual UFO Network’s State Director of Southern California Earl Grey Anderson, and Travis Walton — a man who was believed to be abducted by aliens in 1975.

But now, speaker presentations are just one part of UFO Fest. There’s also a sci-fi film festival, alien costume ball, musical performances, vendor booths, a big parade and more.

Even for people who don’t believe in UFOs or aren’t familiar with the community that does, Chisholm says the event is still a fun way to get out of the house for the weekend.

“It is probably the best people watching you could ever imagine,” she said. “You’ll see some great costumes. You’ll see people who speak their own little alien language. And you get to come to one of America’s best downtowns in McMinnville.”

UFO Fest runs from Thursday, May 18, to Sunday, May 21 at various locations in McMinnville. Attendees can buy a $125 VIP pass that includes almost all of the weekend’s festivities, or individual tickets for speaker presentations.

Some events, such as the costume contest and parade, are free to attend.