The long-anticipated “Storm Area 51” event that began after a joke Facebook event went viral earlier this year happened in Rachel, Nevada over the weekend. While around two million people responded to the event on Facebook, only a couple thousand ended up making the actual trek into the remote Nevada desert throughout the unofficial four day event. While the event still attracted quite the crowd—considering the fact that Rachel, Nevada can’t possibly have created an infrastructure to welcome thousands of tourists with just a few months’ notice—only a handful were arrested for trespassing the Area 51 site between Thursday and Sunday.
The event was controversial since its inception. When Matty Roberts created the event on Facebook as a joke, he didn’t expect that it would blow up quite like it did. Millions responded to the event, worrying local officials that people would actually storm the area in late-September despite a lack of infrastructure and a heavy warning from government officials not to trespass on government property. The area has long been the subject of conspiracy theories, as it was once a secret Air Force base and is now thought to hold some of the worlds biggest secrets of alien life on earth. Government officials, however, assure that the area is simply a high-clearance Air Force base. Regardless, trespassing on the property will land you in jail—or worse, as one man was killed trying to trespass on the grounds earlier this year.
Event-goers warned not to attend cancelled “Alienstock” festival.
Once the event started gaining actual traction online, Roberts began planning an actual event in the nearby town of Rachel, Nevada that would play host to music events, art installments, and camping around the small desert town. When event planners realized that there was no way they were going to be able to secure permits, build the infrastructure for the event, and assure proper public safety precautions were taken in time for the planned event, they were forced to cancel. Still, people wanted to attend the highly publicized event.
Thousands flocked through the Extraterrestrial Highway over the weekend to check out the event. Some even went so far as to storm the actual gate of the Area 51 site, though they were not met with the same welcomed enthusiasm as they would have been in the neighboring towns. A couple of arrests were made over the weekend, including three on Friday, for trespassing on the site. One person was treated for dehydration at the “festival” experience, but aside from that the event came and went without much of a hassle. Some attendees came in costume, others simply drove up from Las Vegas to check out the happenings before heading back. In Las Vegas, however, Life Is Beautiful attracted thousands to its downtown Las Vegas site where headliners like Billie Eilish and Post Malone brought in massive crowds to the area.
It’s unclear if an event like Alienstock will happen in the future. Roberts, who is credited with having founded the event, was forced to heavily publicize an official cancellation announcement for the event as a way of discouraging people from attending. In the media, many compared the lack of planning and infrastructure to that of Fyre Festival, which made headlines in recent years for its lack of preparation. Nevertheless, Alienstock still managed to attract attendees from far and wide to check out the happenings in rural Nevada.