After months of work and national media attention, the first ever WNC Bigfoot Festival is about to leave its footprint on downtown Marion.
The festival will take place Saturday in the center of Marion and will be presented by Bigfoot 911, McDowell County’s own group of investigators into the paranormal phenomenon. This team has conducted research here since 2014. Last year, the team documented a sighting at Lake James, which received national recognition. The members of the team call what supposedly lives here “The Beast of the Blue Ridge.”
Last year, the members of Bigfoot 911 started talking with the Marion Business Association and the McDowell Chamber of Commerce about holding a festival here about all things related to Sasquatch. Since then, this event has gotten attention from national news organizations and folks across the country have followed its progress through social media.
The event starts with a 5K fun run at 8 a.m. The actual festival will take place from noon to 6 p.m. The opening ceremony starts at noon at the courthouse with Mayor Steve Little declaring Bigfoot as the “official animal of Marion.”
Highlights for the festival include a Bigfoot calling contest, which will be held at 2 p.m. at the courthouse lawn and Bigfoot knocking contest, which will follow at 2:30 p.m. These will take place every half hour.
Investigators into the weird phenomenon say the creature can communicate by knocking against trees using branches. On Saturday, folks can try their hand at doing Bigfoot knocks, according to a news release.
A scavenger hunt will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Main Street.
There will be pictures with Bigfoot, bouncy houses for the kids, and a variety of craft and food vendors. John Bruner with Bigfoot 911 said there are more than 90 vendors lined up.
“It’s really coming together,” he said.
You can also meet with the members of the group and learn more about how they go about doing their research. A town hall meeting is scheduled from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on the courthouse lawn for folks to share their stories about possibly seeing or hear the hairy creature. It will be shown on Facebook live, according to Bruner.
People can get their inaugural festival T-shirts, “Bigfoot Juice” and other mementos. Food vendors will include favorites like hot dogs and barbecue. Burrito Bros., located at 9 N. Main St., will serve up a special Bigfoot Burrito, according to the news release.
A DJ will provide music and there will be strolling bluegrass ensembles. A classic car show will fill one block ($10 entry fee).
At 5 p.m., all the members of the Bigfoot 911 group will gather for a photo at the courthouse. The awards ceremony will also be held at 5 for the winners of the contests and the car show. Closing ceremonies are set for 5:45 p.m.
Marion has embraced this event like probably nothing else before. All around the city, businesses have had their windows painted with Bigfoot pictures by artist Toby Tyler of Hendersonville. Mica Town Brewing will release a special craft beer in honor of the creature. Spillway Bridge & Co. has hosted a “Paint the Town” painting party centered on Bigfoot.
Bruner said he wanted to do this so he and other members of Bigfoot 911 can share their experiences and hear from others who claim to have seen or heard this mysterious creature. He added this festival is a way for the local community to be united and have some fun at the same time.
“I want everybody to come together for one day, be happy and make memories,” said Bruner.
Event sponsors are Spencer’s ACE Hardware, Tate’s Insurance Agency, McDowell Chamber of Commerce and the city of Marion.