The Latest: Music begins at event Nevada town near Area 51

HIKO, Nev. – The Latest on “Storm Area 51” events in two tiny Nevada towns near the once-secret military research site (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

Sound checks echoed from a distant main stage as Daniel Martinez whirled and danced at dusty makeshift festival grounds in Rachel, the Nevada town closest to the once-secret Area 51 military base.

His muse was the thumping beat from a satellite setup that pumped a techno beat into the chilly desert night Thursday.

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A man sets up a stage in preparation for an event inspired by the "Storm Area 51" internet hoax near the Little A'Le'Inn motel and cafe, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Rachel, Nev. Hundreds have arrived in the desert after a Facebook post inviting people to "see them aliens" got widespread attention and gave rise to festivals this week. (AP Photo/John Locher)

A man sets up a stage in preparation for an event inspired by the “Storm Area 51” internet hoax near the Little A’Le’Inn motel and cafe, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Rachel, Nev. Hundreds have arrived in the desert after a Facebook post inviting people to “see them aliens” got widespread attention and gave rise to festivals this week. (AP Photo/John Locher)

HIKO, Nev. – The Latest on “Storm Area 51” events in two tiny Nevada towns near the once-secret military research site (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

Sound checks echoed from a distant main stage as Daniel Martinez whirled and danced at dusty makeshift festival grounds in Rachel, the Nevada town closest to the once-secret Area 51 military base.

His muse was the thumping beat from a satellite setup that pumped a techno beat into the chilly desert night Thursday.

The music kicked off events that officials say have drawn around 1,500 people to two tiny desert towns. Events are scheduled until Sunday.

The 31-year-old collectible cards seller said he drove more than six hours from Pomona, California, to catch an event inspired by an internet hoax calling people to “Storm Area 51.”

Martinez said he knew the post was a joke, but he also knew people would show up.

He called it “a contagion, but in a good way. With positivity.”

____

6:15 p.m.

Military jets roared overhead in the blue Nevada sky as Rusty Satterwhite, from Twin Falls, Idaho, chatted with his new camping neighbour, Chuck Bench of White City, Oregon.

Bench, a 72-year-old Vietnam War-era U.S. Air Force veteran, said he came to the “Alienstock” event in Rachel to find meaning in life.

Workers erect a stage at the Little A'Le'Inn on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Rachel, Nev. No one knows what to expect, but lots of people are preparing for "Storm Area 51" in the Nevada desert. Events include an “Area 51 Basecamp” in Hiko featuring music, speakers and movies and dueling “Alienstock” festivals. One is Thursday through Sunday in Rachel, and another is Thursday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Workers erect a stage at the Little A’Le’Inn on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Rachel, Nev. No one knows what to expect, but lots of people are preparing for “Storm Area 51” in the Nevada desert. Events include an “Area 51 Basecamp” in Hiko featuring music, speakers and movies and dueling “Alienstock” festivals. One is Thursday through Sunday in Rachel, and another is Thursday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Maybe it’s over those hills, laughed Satterwhite, a 45-year-old automation engineer.

The two found free space easy to find on federal Bureau of Land Management property across state Highway 375 from the Little A’Le’Inn — and within sight of a makeshift stage being set up for music to begin after dark.

Neither man said he had any intention of running toward any gate to the once-secret Area 51 military base somewhere over the picturesque mountains.

After hearing that the Federal Aviation Administration closed airspace in the area, Satterwhite said he’d keep his remote-controlled drone aircraft on the ground.

He also brought his GoPro camera, he said.

____

6:05 p.m.

Michael Creber was waving traffic ahead on a driveway from Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway in front of the Little A’Le’Inn motel and cafe in tiny Rachel.

If a spaceship arrives, he said, he was hoping he’d be asked to drive.

The 53-year-old from Bend, Oregon, said he was drawn to volunteer at the “Alienstock” festival hosted by motel owner Connie West for people responding to an internet hoax about the once-secret Area 51 military base.

“It’d be nice if a UFO shows up,” Creber said in a nod to popular legend that in addition to U.S. Air Force testing, Area 51 houses government studies of space aliens. “But I’m not holding my breath.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the hundreds of visitors arriving in the tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko (HI’-koh) about a two-hour drive into the Nevada desert from Las Vegas were Earthlings, not extraterrestrials.

____

3:10 p.m.

A stage is literally being set for Earthling visitors who are beginning to descend on the Nevada desert for “Storm Area 51” events galvanized by an internet hoax.

Alon Burton and his band Wily Savage wrestled a tarp Thursday over a wooden frame covering a stage near a motel in the tiny town of Rachel. Burton says bands will play until midnight.

Hundreds have arrived in the desert after a Facebook post inviting people to “see them aliens” got widespread attention and gave rise to festivals this week.

Area 51’s secrecy has long fueled fascination about UFOs and conspiracy theories. The military has warned people not to approach the protected site.

The motel is booked and camping fees have gone into effect on the property. Several dozen campers in trucks and trailers staked space for free on federal land nearby.

____

12:01 a.m.

No one knows what to expect, but people are preparing for “Storm Area 51” in the remote Nevada desert.

Visitors descending on the tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko (HI’-koh) near the once-secret military research site are from Earth, not outer space.

Area 51’s secrecy fuels fascination about UFOs and conspiracy theories. An internet joke inviting people to “see them aliens” has given rise to festivals this week.

The military has warned people not to approach the protected site.

Neighbours, elected officials and experts say the craze might become a cultural marker, a dud or something in between.

Events include an “Area 51 Basecamp” in Hiko featuring music, speakers and movies and dueling “Alienstock” festivals. One is Thursday through Sunday in Rachel, and another is Thursday in Las Vegas

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