Festival brings together both Bigfoot believers and freethinkers

September 11, 2018

Thousands of Bigfoot believers and skeptics thronged the first-ever Carolina Bigfoot Festival in Marion, North Carolina on September 8—but the Sasquatch himself did not make an appearance, according to a September 9  report by NPR.

The tall, shaggy ape-like being, who walks upright and leaves large footprints, has been sighted most frequently by Americans in the Pacific Northwest—however, enthusiasts nationwide says they have spotted him (or her) briefly in their local backwoods areas.

Indeed, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organizations reports recent sightings—including a daytime road crossing on MN-73 near the town of Cook in St. Louis County, Missouri this past April.

McDowell County Chamber of Commerce Director Steve Bush told NPR that he is ambivalent when it comes to Bigfoot. “I’m going to say that until I see him — I want to believe, but until I physically see him — I’m going to say no at this point,” says Bush.

However, his disbelief has not affected his delight with the festival.  The down-at-the-heels small town needed an influx of visitors—and the event provided one. “We’re getting a lot of life back into these old buildings, and that’s what’s exciting about Marion,” Bush says. “So, if you really want to see a little bit of the old mixed with the new, then Marion, North Carolina is the place you want to be.”

At first glance, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a an eccentric yet engaging meeting of the mammoth-chasing minds:  There are Bigfoot T-shirt booths, yard signs — but then there’s the Bigfoot Juice stand run by Allie Webb. She claims the earthy, woodsy-smelling concoction is both an insect repellant and a Bigfoot attractant.

“I believe that the Bigfoot juice does work,” Webb told the news outlet. “We say that it’s good for up to a mile and a half away. Just because you don’t see Bigfoot doesn’t mean that he didn’t see you and decide to turn around and run.”

Webb’s also is quick to point out that she has a witness. Festival organizer John Bruner has led the Bigfoot 911 explorer team for years in North carolina. He says they used the juice about a year ago and finally hit pay dirt.

“We were doing an expedition and I had one cross the forest service road about 30 yards from where I was at, and I got a really good look at it,” Bruner says. “I’ve been hunting Bigfoot for 40 years and doing research — and it was just totally exhilarating for me. … I finally got to see one after all I’ve went through and all the time I’ve spent in the woods.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many other researchers here at the festival, like Lee Woods, who told reporters, “The female we saw probably right between 11:30 and 11:45 at night. And we saw her with some night vision. And that was the first one I’d ever seen.”. Years later, he claims to have seen a male Sasquatch, some nine feet tall.

“And once you see it, it’s ingrained in your brain. Trust me [laughs]. Yeah, you don’t forget it. The reason I say that is the guy who actually saw it with me — his name is Sam, and he’s ex-Marine — and he said he’d never been so scared in his whole life when he seen it. And he’s never came back. Yeah, that’s how scared he was.”

Woods stands behind a booth alongside other experts, answering – questions, displaying Bigfoot photos, casts and even field recordings of strange sounds in the woods.

For many here at the festival, the Bigfoot calling competition will be the high point, for seasoned hobbyists like Woods and for Sasquatch newbies like Irys Frankon. She and her family drove from Clarkesville, Georgia to attend the event.At the Bigfoot calling competition, Frankon, along with dozens of others steps up to the microphone in front of City Hall one at a time. They belt out their best cry of the Sasquatch with hopes of luring a Bigfoot out of the forest and onto Main Street.

Eventually Bigfoot calling champions were announced and the daylong festival wrapped up for the year, with plans for another in 2019. There were no Bigfoot sightings, but stories were shared, thousands and thousands showed up for the occasion, and more than one Sasquatch skeptic was converted.

Research contact: @ChamberMcdowell

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