About 40 miles south of the Little A’Le’Inn is the Alien Research Center, a novelty shop that has become a popular spot for tourists driving down the Extraterrestrial Highway. The shop carries everything from alien-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers to “Star Wars” collectibles. Misty Ingram, 38, who has worked at the shop for about a year, said she hasn’t been able to keep T-shirts on the rack in the last few weeks.

The best-selling item recently: black T-shirts with red and white lettering that reads, “Area 51, Groom Lake Research Facility S-4, WARNING, restricted area, use of deadly force authorized.” The shirts are meant to imitate the signage at the guarded gates around the facility that tourists trek to see each year.

“I think it’s ridiculous that anyone thinks they are going to get into Area 51,” Ingram said.

She believes the event will morph into more of a makeshift festival than a raid. The shop’s phone has been ringing with vendors ranging from bakeries to tattoo artists asking if they can set up in the store’s parking lot in September.

Ingram, a mother of three who has lived in Alamo for 12 years, said she’s excited for the business, but is concerned about safety, noise and traffic jams on the two-lane highways that connect the valleys in Lincoln County.

“Most of us live all the way out here for a reason,” Ingram said. “It’s to get away from things like this.”

Holaday grew up in Alamo, a ranching and agricultural community of about 1,000 residents, where neighbors pull their cars over to stop and chat when they see each other. The town is so close to the Nevada Test and Training Range that many locals have a story about a military jet flying so low, it felt as if it were hovering just above their head. They are used to sonic booms from speeding aircraft rattling their windows.

Holaday’s father, who did some cattle ranching, was also a maintenance worker at Area 51. Growing up, it was understood that his father did not discuss the details of what he saw while working at the military facility.

About 12 years ago, Holaday learned that the Alamo Inn was for sale. He decided to return from New Jersey, where he’d been living for work, to buy it and raise his two children in his hometown.

Soon afterward, a group began hosting a UFO conference there. For five or six years, the group held panels at a nearby senior center and then returned to the Alamo Inn in the evening. They barbecued and then sat around a campfire talking shop.

Holaday often joined them, giving little credence to the theories, but still amused and fascinated.

This content was originally published here.