This weekend, the second annual WNC Bigfoot Festival will again bring people from all over the nation to enjoy downtown Marion and celebrate the (some say) mythical creature.
The festival related to the Sasquatch phenomenon will happen this Friday evening and all day Saturday in the downtown. It is still considered a one-day event but there will be a special new attraction the night before.
On Friday night, West Court Street will be shut down and a 100-foot screen will be set up for an outdoor showing of “Harry and the Hendersons.” Folks can watch this 1987 comedy hit starring John Lithgow under the stars. The light-hearted PG-rated movie is about a family’s accidental encounter with the cryptozoological creature in the Pacific Northwest.
John Bruner with Bigfoot 911 said this is being done in cooperation with Mountain Marquee, which is located on West Court Street. The movie will start once it gets dark, similar to the old drive-in theaters.
“We’re asking people to bring their lawn chairs,” said Bruner to The McDowell News. “We’re going to have people sitting stadium style.”
Bruner said he wanted Friday night to emphasize the downtown businesses. That way people who come to the festival can enjoy Marion’s shops, restaurants and pubs without all the crowds on Saturday, he added.
“They’re cranking back up,” said Bruner of the downtown entrepreneurs.
Already, numerous downtown businesses have decorated their windows and are offering merchandise of all things related to Bigfoot. They are getting into the spirit of what has become Marion’s biggest event.
For example, Flavors on Main has Bigfoot mugs and Bigfoot rubs and seasonings for grilling meat. The business has unique outdoor fire pits bearing the image of the legendary creature. They have a product called Bigfoot Poop, which are chocolate-covered Espresso beans. Flavors on Main is one of the sponsors of the festival.
“The excitement is starting to build,” said co-owner Doug Watson to The McDowell News. “It’s going to be big.”
Another example is Mica Town Brewing which has started a countdown to the event and will again offer the special Blue Ridge Beast beer. Simply Sweet & Happy has cookies depicting the alleged half man, half ape creature and Turtle Laboratories has made commemorative coasters.
The Bigfoot Chase 5K will start at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 at East Middle School. (See sidebar).
On Saturday, the festival opens at 9 a.m. but will officially kick off at 10 a.m. with the opening ceremonies. Mayor Steve Little will issue his proclamation declaring Bigfoot to be the official animal of Marion.
Bruner said to The McDowell News that this year’s festival will have 170 vendors on Saturday coming from all over the nation. He added the farthest vendor will come from Oregon, which is well known for its alleged Sasquatch activity.
The festival will still cover the same section of Main Street as last year’s event. Bruner said the N.C. Department of Transportation would not let organizers take up another block.
But more room has been provided for the festival by having all of the food vendors at the Wells Fargo parking lot.
“All of the food vendors will at the Wells Fargo parking lot,” said Bruner to The McDowell News. “We will have 12 food vendors with barbecue, Bigfoot burgers, Bigfoot hot dogs. You name it we’re going to have it.”
Another change to provide more room for the vendors is having the children’s section off of Main Street. Inflatables and children’s activities will be located at the Mountain Lake Realty Kids Zone on West Fort Street.
There will also not be a car show this time.
To make it easier for folks to get to the festival, a shuttle service will transport people from the parking lots at McDowell High School, West Middle School, McDowell Technical Community College and the Corpening Memorial YMCA.
“Shuttles will run all day back and forth,” said Bruner to The McDowell News.
The 2019 festival will have designated parking for people with disabilities. These parking places will be at the Marion City Hall and the Marion Community Building and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, said Bruner to The McDowell News.
A popular event at the festival is the Bigfoot calling contest. Bruner said people can register to become contestants at the ERA Mountain View Courtyard on the courthouse lawn. The contest will start at noon. A total of 10 contestants will be drawn to compete. Winners will be announced at 3:45 p.m. during the closing ceremonies, said Bruner.
Cliff Barackman, the star from the popular “Finding Bigfoot” TV show on Animal Planet, will speak briefly at the town hall meeting, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. At the town hall meeting, folks can describe their encounters with the legendary creature.
The “Finding Bigfoot” team of Barackman, Matt Moneymaker, James “Bobo” Flay and Ranae Holland has previously taped episodes of their show in western North Carolina, so they are familiar with the region.
The festival organizers have partnered with Mountain Marquee to present other Sasquatch-related films. “Paranormal Bigfoot,” a new film by Bill and Amy Lancaster, will be shown at Mountain Marquee throughout the day of the festival. Another filmmaker, Dan Wayne from Alaska, will bring his movie “Big Fur” to Marion and it will also be shown at Mountain Marquee.
Groups that have investigated the weird phenomenon are scheduled to participate. Some of them will be Expedition Bigfoot, I Know Squatch, Citysquatch, Bigfoot and Me and of course our own Bigfoot 911, according to Bruner.
Restrooms will be located at MACA on Main Street, the ERA Mountain View Courtyard, the Mountain Lake Realty Kids Zone, the City Stage, the Tailgate Market, Wells Fargo food court, the First Baptist Church’s fellowship hall on Main Street. Cooling stations will be located at the First Baptist Church and beside State Farm with McDowell County EMS personnel present, according to the Facebook page for the event.
Medics, police officers, firefighters and Rescue Squad personnel will be on-site at the festival in case anyone needs their help.
The event will have a 50-50 drawing with proceeds to benefit the Glen Tipton Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. And a portion of the festival proceeds will be donated to the North American Bigfoot Center in Boring, Ore. operated by Cliff Barackman, according to the Facebook page for the event.
Marion’s first ever WNC Bigfoot Festival made local history last year as more than 25,000 people descended on the downtown to celebrate the (some say) mythical creature. The festival was presented by Bigfoot 911, McDowell County’s own group of investigators who have conducted research here since 2014 Multiple national, regional and local news outlets covered last year’s event including CNN and NPR.
Bruner said to The McDowell News that this year’s festival should be as good or better. As far as he knows, the weather is supposed to cooperate. Even more people know about this time around.
“I just want everybody to come to the festival and have a good time and make memories with your family you can smile about,” he said to The McDowell News.
For more information about the 2019 WNC Bigfoot Festival, you can check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wncbigfootfestival/.