Minister, counselor, lecturer and author James Gilliland delivers a lecture about his personal experiences with extra-terrestrial spirits and beings, and his after-life experiences, at Contact in the Desert. Credit: Kevin Fitzgerald

On Friday, Aug. 9, more than 500 followers and believers of UFOlogy and the extra-terrestrial contact movement gathered for the first Contact in the Desert conference at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center.

Over three days—through Sunday, Aug. 11—35 experts on these belief systems are offering lectures, workshops and panel discussions.

Although the auras of spirits were not visible to the naked eye, vendor tents ruffled in the strong desert winds, and participants sought out shelter from the hot sun as the first day’s activities wore on.

For more information, visit contactinthedesert.net. Below are a few photos of the conference experience.

Kevin Fitzgerald

Kevin Fitzgerald is the staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. He started as a freelance writer for the Independent in June 2013, more than a year after he and his wife moved from Los Angeles...