Even though it won’t happen until September, the second WNC Bigfoot Festival already has got all the vendors it can handle.

John Bruner with Bigfoot 911 told The McDowell News that the next festival has already booked around 150 vendors, which is the capacity. The 2019 WNC Bigfoot Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 14 in downtown Marion.

“We are maxed out,” he said Wednesday. “We actually have about 40 on a waiting list.”

These vendors who will set up their booths in the downtown will come here from California, Oregon, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and other parts of North Carolina.

“Everybody is talking about it,” said Bruner to The McDowell News. “We’re posting it as soon as we get new sponsors.”

The festival is still considered a one-day event but there will be a special new attraction for the night before. On the night of Friday, Sept. 13, 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 bring their lawn chairs to 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.

Bruner said this is being done in cooperation with Mountain Marquee, which is located on West Court Street.

Bruner said he and other organizers have worked to bring in more experts and investigators about the unexplained phenomenon popularly known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch for this year’s festival.

“I really wanted to increase the Bigfoot education,” he said. “I went out and brought in these experts.”

The best known of them is Cliff Barackman. He is a star from the popular “Finding Bigfoot” TV show on Animal Planet. He will speak at the town hall meeting during the festival, according to Bruner.

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.

Barackman is the evidence analyst of the group and has been a dedicated Bigfoot field researcher for the past two decades. He has been known to spend over 200 days a year in the field, according to the Wikipedia article about the TV show.

“He’s really excited about coming here and participating in the festival,” said Bruner of Barackman. “He loves North Carolina. He has his own Bigfoot museum in Oregon.”

The festival organizers have partnered with Mountain Marquee to present other Sasquatch-related films. Bruner said he has received enthusiastic cooperation from Cody Andrews and Aaron Shirley, the owners of downtown Marion’s new movie theater.

“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.

Other new programs for the festival will incorporate presentations by researchers and authors.

Dirty South Squatchy, a research group from the Uwharries region of North Carolina, will be a part of the festival. Bruner said this group has done a lot of investigations into the legend of Knobby in nearby Cleveland County. Dr. John Stamey, who wrote a book about the Lizard Man phenomenon in South Carolina, will also come to Marion and talk about what he’s discovered through his research.

A group out of Charlotte will bring something called “The Bigfoot Experience” and will set up a recreation of a Sasquatch habitat. Expedition Bigfoot from Blue Ridge, Ga. will also present an educational exhibit and be a vendor, according to Bruner.

Marion’s first ever WNC Bigfoot Festival made local history last year as an estimated 25,000 people descended on 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 and documented sightings of the “Beast of the Blue Ridge.” The crowds of people exceeded everyone’s expectations. Multiple national, regional and local news outlets covered Saturday’s event including CNN and NPR.

And Bruner is doing his part to get the word out about the unexplained phenomenon in McDowell County during the months leading up to the next festival. He will give a presentation at a Bigfoot conference in Clayton, Ga. in April and then will speak at the Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn. in July.

For updates about the 2019 WNC Bigfoot Festival, you can check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wncbigfootfestival/

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