Local hotels, motels getting boost from WNC Bigfoot Festival

MIKE CONLEY/MCDOWELL NEWS

By all indications, local hotels and motels are already booked this weekend for the second annual WNC Bigfoot Festival. A prime example is the Hampton Inn on U.S. 221 South. “We are indeed sold out for this weekend,” said front desk attendant Christa Connor to The McDowell News. “We have been sold out for Bigfoot for a long time.” Other local inns like the Comfort Inn and the Super 8 are either completely sold out or almost sold out.

By all indications, local hotels and motels are already booked this weekend for the second annual WNC Bigfoot Festival.

A prime example is the Hampton Inn on U.S. 221 South.

“We are indeed sold out for this weekend,” said front desk attendant Christa Connor to The McDowell News. “We have been sold out for Bigfoot for a long time.”

In fact, the Hampton Inn is getting booked up for the days leading up to the festival.

“We are completely sold out today,” said Connor on Tuesday. “We have 15 rooms tomorrow so my projection is we will be sold out tomorrow too.”

She added most of the people reserving rooms for this weekend are from North Carolina and the surrounding area. The local Hampton Inn has 66 rooms.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Comfort Inn on U.S. 70 West and the 221 Bypass is completely booked for Friday but there are still a few rooms available for Saturday, according to a manager who declined to give her complete name.

She said the people who reserved rooms for the weekend are coming to Marion “from all over.”

The Super 8 by Wyndham motel on U.S. 221 South is already sold out for this weekend presumably because of the festival.

“Yes, we are pretty much going to be booked for this weekend, starting on Friday,” said head desk clerk Samantha Owensby on Tuesday. “We’re looking for a full house this weekend. It sounds like the Bigfoot Festival will be a blast this year like last year.”

Owensby said some of the people who have made reservations at the Super 8 are coming here from other states as well as other North Carolina cities. For example, she’s got rooms reserved for people from Pittsburgh, Pa. and Kansas City, Mo. One party of people has reserved a group of five rooms for the weekend.

“Looks like they are coming from far and wide,” she added.

Owensby said it would be helpful if her guests received a flier or a brochure for the festival so they can be better prepared for this weekend.

One local inn that still has rooms available is the Inn at Linville Falls. It is the bed-and-breakfast in front of the Linville Falls Mountain Club in North Cove.

Owner Melanie Harris said Tuesday her B&B has rooms available for Friday night and Saturday night.

“We are excited about that festival,” she said to The McDowell News. “We just bought the inn on Aug. 8. We have done a lot to the inn.”

The Inn at Linville Falls has 16 rooms total and since it is considered a B&B, it offers hot breakfasts to its guests.

The Inn at Linville Falls is not as well known among local residents at the other places but people find about it on the Internet, said Harris.

“We are really excited,” she said Tuesday. “We were not here last year when the first festival happened.”

Harris said she knows of some vacation homes that are available for this weekend too.

Carol Price, executive director of the McDowell Tourism Authority, said there is no doubt this event brings people into the county. Local retailers, restaurants and other businesses greatly benefit from the Bigfoot Festival.

“Throughout late spring and during the summer months, leading up to today’s inquiries people have positively responded to this event,” she said on Tuesday. “It’s been part of our print/social media advertising campaigns.”

Both the Comfort Inn and the Hampton Inn have been receiving calls about the festival beginning in late spring or early summer. “Hampton Inn estimates about 50% of their weekend reservations are the result of the festival,” said Price.

In Little Switzerland, the Switzerland Inn is hosting a Ferrari Club this weekend and the Big Lynn Lodge is also booked with a variety of guests, according to Price.

She added there are so many Air B&B properties and those are a challenge to track.

Price said she looked at the September revenues for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 from the occupancy tax. This is the tax charged to people who rent accommodations at a hotel, motel, tourist house or other kinds of lodging.

Each year from 2016 to 2018, the September revenue increased between approximately $4,400 and $5,100. But the difference between 2018 and 2019 for that month could be different because of the WNC Bigfoot Festival.

“After this year, we’ll see if that range holds,” said Price.

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