MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) — Are we alone in the universe?
It’s a question we’ve been asking since the dawn of humankind. Many people believe aliens exist and have even visited Earth on numerous occasions.
Some think they’ve even made a stop in McMinnville, Oregon.
On May 11, 1950, Paul Trent and his wife, Evelyn Trent, were at their farm near Sheridan, roughly 9 miles southwest of McMinnville, when something happened that would capture the world’s attention.
The Trents claimed to see a flying disc in the sky.
Evelyn Trent later explained how she was outside that evening feeding the animals when she looked up and saw the object silently hovering to the northeast of the farm.
She called for her husband to come outside and take a look and the pair both agreed with what they saw: a metallic object hanging in the sky that eventually sped off to the northwest.
Those claims may have been easily dismissed had it not been for the photographs Trent captured; photographs that were published in the local paper — The Telephone Register — and quickly picked up by news outlets across the country.
Trent’s photos went the 1950s version of viral. And for the rest of their lives, the Trents swore the photos were real and not a hoax.
To this day, no one has been able to unequivocally debunk the images.
In 1999, the Portland-based brewery chain McMenamins opened the Hotel Oregon in downtown McMinnville and, recognizing a good marketing opportunity, launched a festival the same year to celebrate the reported Trent sighting.
The McMenamins Hotel Oregon UFO Festival is held for 3 days every May and attracts thousands of visitors who are all, in some way, fascinated by whatever happened near the Trents’ farm on May 11, 1950.
Dani Chisolm, the property manager at Hotel Oregon, isn’t sure what the Trents saw but she believes “they saw something.”
“There’s definitely something out there and I think there’s a lot more to explain,” Chisolm said.
Whether-or-not the claims are bona fide doesn’t seem to matter. The entire community, from the McMinnville Downtown Business Association to mom-and-pop shops all over town, embraces the legend that has solidified McMinnville’s place in the annals of extraterrestrial lore.
Such enthusiasm has helped make the town’s UFO Festival the second-largest of its kind in the United States; only the UFO festival in Roswell, New Mexico is bigger.
This year’s UFO Fest takes place May 16-18. It will feature a parade on Saturday, May 18, various activities for kids, lectures by UFO experts and, of course, the opportunity to weigh in on the ongoing debate: are the Trent photographs real?
…And if they are, does that mean we aren’t alone?