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Out of this world

Town prepares for Spruce Pine Alien Conference & Expo

SPRUCE PINE – More UFO sightings have been reported in Mitchell County than any other county in North Carolina, and most of the quartz used in space telescopes, tiles on NASA space shuttles and nearly any technology requiring a microchip comes from Spruce Pine. These facts make the town the perfect location for the first Spruce Pine Alien Conference and Expo.

The Spruce Pine Alien Conference and Expo, or SPACE, festival is 7-10 p.m. Friday, June 14, and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 15, in downtown Spruce Pine. Festival organizers expect the multidimensional event to draw up to 10,000 people to the area from around the United States. 

Festival organizer and Spruce Pine native Jimmy Hinshaw said he was searching for an idea that would put his hometown “on the map.” Using the successful Bigfoot Festival in Marion as an example, Hinshaw said he started researching what has historically put Spruce Pine “on the map.”

“Our rich history metaphorically and literally in minerals was high on the list,” Hinshaw said. “Then, there’s our history in the arts, but I noticed a trend in supernatural phenomena.”

Hinshaw’s research led him to an article that called Mitchell County a “hot spot” for UFO sightings. Hinshaw also located a March 22, 2000, article in the Mitchell News-Journal that reported a sighting in Ledger. 

“There have been many reports from Roan Mountain, Buladean, Penland, Kona, Grassy Creek – most likely every community in the county,” Hinshaw said. “North Carolina entered the top-10 list in the country in for UFO sightings with 2,911 in 2018.”

Hinshaw discussed the idea for the festival with others in a limited capacity to gauge interest. 

“It was as if I turned on a firehose,” Hinshaw said. “Stories from folks whose aunt, brother, grandfather or themselves who had experiences with an ‘alien,’ UFO or other unexplained event poured out at rapid pace. It really surprised me.”

Hinshaw said his plan is having a safe, financially successful SPACE festival that will generate interest in downtown Spruce Pine and Mitchell County, the area’s diverse history and assist in the ongoing revitalization efforts. 

The featured speaker for the event is Mike Bara, from the History Channel show “Ancient Aliens.” Bara is a New York Times bestselling author, lecturer and TV personality whose books have sold more than 70,000 copies worldwide. He began his writing career after spending more than 25 years as an engineering designer/consultant for major aerospace companies, where he was a card-carrying member of the Military/Industrial complex. A self-described “born again conspiracy theorist,” Bara’s first book “Dark Mission-The Secret History of NASA” was a New York Times bestseller from Feral House in 2007. His second book, “The Choice,” which concerns theories about hyper-dimensional physics, planetary formation, conscious thought and how they relate to the Mayan Calendar, Hopi prophecies and the current era of dramatic change, was published in by New Page Books 2010.  

Bara published “Ancient Aliens on the Moon” from Adventures Unlimited Press in 2012, a new in-depth study of artificial structures on the Moon and the secrets it has held for millions of years. Bara returned with “Ancient Aliens on Mars,” also from Adventures Unlimited Press in 2013, which examines the hidden history of Mars and the vast, ancient civilization which once flourished there. He published his fifth book, “Ancient Aliens on Mars II,” also for Adventures Unlimited Press in 2014. He returned with “Ancient Aliens and Secret Societies,” which reveals the link between fraternal organizations like the Freemasons and the Ancient Alien presence on Earth in 2015.  

In the Fall of 2016, Adventures Unlimited published Bara’s seventh book, “Hidden Agenda: NASA and the Secret Space Program” in the fall of 2016, which examines what real evidence exists for a privately funded space program operating behind the façade of the official public space program.  

Bara published his first novel, “Lightbringer,” an X-Files-styled thriller about a NASA based secret societies’ attempt to create a worldwide catastrophic event to seize power in 2017. Bara returned to the world of non-fiction in 2018 with “Ancient Aliens and JFK: The Race to the Moon and the Kennedy Assassination,” which examines the new Kennedy documents and how they point to JFK’s knowledge of the alien presence on Earth as the real reason behind the president’s murder.

Bara has made numerous public appearances lecturing about the subjects of space science, NASA, physics, UFOs and the link between science and spirit, and has been a featured guest on radio programs like Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. He is a regular contributor to the television programs Ancient Aliens (over 35 appearances), America’s Book of Secrets and Hangar-1. Mike has recently starred in an alien investigation reality show for the Discovery networks called “Uncovering Aliens,” which has been shown on the Science Channel, Animal Planet, American Heroes and Destination America networks, and is being shown extensively in Europe and South America.

More recently Bara appeared on NBC/Universal’s SyFy Network on the special “Aliens on the Moon: The Truth Exposed” alongside NASA astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin. The show was based primarily on his 2012 book, “Ancient Aliens on the Moon.”  

Bara appeared in five episodes of “UFOs: The Lost Evidence” on Destination America and other Discovery networks in 2017.

There will also be panel discussions by local authors, researchers and alien experts at the event. An “open mike” will be available during the day to allow visitors and residents to tell stories about their close encounters and other strange occurrences.

Friday’s events include free concerts and trips to the Bare Dark Sky Observatory. Saturday’s events include ET Bike Races from 10-11 a.m., a car shoe drive-through on Oak Avenue at noon, an Unidentified Floating Object River Race from 3-4 p.m., speaker Mike Bara from 2-3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m., live music from 8-10 p.m. and Dark Sky tours beginning at 9 p.m.

A “My Favorite Martian” costume contest is also planned, and there will be food vendors, comic and book authors and a beer garden downtown.

Visit spacenc.com for more information.


Friday, June 14, 2019


Early bird setup and welcome. 

Everyone is encouraged to attend in their best alien costumes and makeup.

7-10 p.m.

Locust Avenue, Spruce Pine 


Let’s rock!

LIVE MUSIC! Sending signals to outer space!

Join us in the MARS LANDING pavilion for beer and the best 1980s rock ‘n’ roll with party band SPANK! 

7-10 p.m.

Locust Avenue, Spruce Pine


Let’s find UFOs

Dark Sky Observatory Tours: 9-11 p.m.

Attend the 30-minute tours to the BARE DARK SKY OBSERVATORY. Shuttles leave every half hour.

*Additional charge for this event

Purchase Tickets at Central Park on Locust Street


Saturday, June 15

Festival Events

What’s happening?

Vendors from all corners of the galaxy will be here — great food and beverage options. Area 51 kids park with inflatables, face painting, etc. We encourage all to dress as their favorite alien. Feel free to “tell us your story” live stage event, “ET - Fly the Moon Children’s Bike Race,” an “Out of this World Car Show,” a “Beam Me Up to the Bar” pub crawl and so much more.


• 9 a.m.-8 p.m. – festival open

• 10-11 a.m. – ET Bike Races 

• Noon – Car Show Drive-Thru on Upper Street

• 3-4 p.m. – Unidentified Floating Object River Race

• 2-3 p.m. – Mike Bara

• 4-5 p.m. – Mike Bara

• 8-10 p.m. – Bands

• 9-11 p.m. – Dark Sky Tours


Main Stage

See and hear the aliens.

The Main Stage is where the local speakers, costume contests and live music happen. A day full of great events.

• 10-11 a.m. – Alien Encounters - Local Speakers

• 11-noon – Costume Contest

• Noon-1:30 p.m.  – Mike Bara and Authors Alien Nation Panel

• 2-3:30 p.m. – My Favorite Martian – Costume Contest

• 3:30-5 p.m. – More Alien Encounters - Local Speakers

• 5-6 p.m. – Sponsor thank-yous and “Best Of Show” Awards 


Let’s Rock

LIVE MUSIC! Sending signals to outer space!

Join us in the MARS LANDING pavilion for beer & the best alternative rock featuring

Mellowfield and ‘70s, ‘80s classic rock ‘n’ roll from a special guest.

7-10 p.m.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
Fax: 828-765-1616