A festival marking the 50-year anniversary of one of Canada's most well-documented UFO incidents is over the moon thanks to an anonymous — or perhaps alien — donation.

Brock Zinck, the festival's co-ordinator, said the "significant donation" will help make 2017 Shag Harbour UFO Incident Festival the best ever.

He said the society has struggled to draw attention to the festival in the past, which has grown in popularity over the past 10 years.

"This is a super grassroots sort of thing," he said. "It's important to an otherwise sleepy, southwestern fishing community."

The news is a sharp turn from just a few days ago, after the Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society's $20,000 bid for funding through the provincial and federal governments was rejected. The money would have paid for guest speakers, advertising, a concert, tours and costume contests.

"We think that it has great potential for drawing tourists to the area and boosting the local economy," said Zinck.

The Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society, founded in 2007, aims to make information about the incident more readily available to the public through the festival and its museum.

Shag Harbour UFO incident

During a re-enactment at a previous festival, a Coast Guard vessel deploys flares. (Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society)

The festival was pitched as a cultural event, made more relevant by Canada's 150th birthday. Zinck said the financial boost would have helped reinforce Shag Harbour's unofficial reputation of being "Canada's Roswell," a famous UFO incident in Roswell, N.M.

Zinck said the society hadn't committed any financial obligations at the time the $20,000 request was rejected.

'One of the smoking guns'

He won't disclose the donor's name or amount, but the donor did provide a statement through the society that suggests a desire to keep the Shag Harbour story alive and well:

"Although there is much I can't reveal, without any hesitation I can say the Canadian Government (and the International Community it answers to) appears to be concealing what happened in and around the waters of Shag Harbour, Canada on Oct 4th, 1967," said the statement.

"People with the connections, notoriety, and finances are working hard to challenge how we view the world around us. Shag Harbour is one of the smoking guns that will be used to achieve this."

A 50-year-old mystery

On the night of Oct. 4, 1967, residents called local authorities about a plane crashing into Shag Harbour. Witnesses say they watched an object about 18 metres long flying low before crashing into the water.

A rescue effort that included fishermen and the Canadian Coast Guard failed to recover debris or bodies. No planes were reported missing.