• Roger W. Downes

Are You Ready To Meet Bigfoot This September?

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

In 1987 I was in Middle School when Harry and The Hendersons hit theaters. I remember going with my mother to laugh along to the antics of actors John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon and Kevin Peter Hall as they portrayed the adventures of a family who accidently adopt a Sasquatch named Harry. If you haven't seen the movie, the Henderson family accidently hits Harry with their vehicle following a camping trip and takes him home to nurse him back to health, that is when the Hendersons discover all the challenges of having an eight foot Bigfoot in their home.

Not until the summer of 2020 did I personally have my question answered

Along with the ninety minutes of laughs that the movie provided my family, it also set me on a course of wondering if Bigfoots, or is it Bigfeet, existed. Not until the summer of 2020 did I personally have my question answered after I witnessed, what I believe was a sasquatch cross the trail at Devil's Courthouse in front of me.

That experience set me in motion to learn more about other people's sightings of Bigfoot in Western North Carolina. I wanted to prove to myself I hadn't hallucinated the entire experience so I hit the web in search of anyone else's account. That is where I discovered the research group Bigfoot 911 and their yearly festival in Marion, North Carolina, the WNC Bigfoot Festival. I thought, "Great, other people who will actually believe me when I share my experience," I didn't understand just how many more people.

Listen to our interview with Bigfoot Researcher John Bruner from Marion, North Carolina

I quickly followed a link to the WNC Bigfoot Festival's facebook page and clicked, "message". It wasn't too long after when John Bruner texted me back and we set up a time to chat about my experience. John was very friendly and understanding during our conversation and willing to listen to me rattle on like a maniac about seeing a "monster" in the woods. Which I still doubted myself and wondered if the pandemic had started to take an ill effect on me.

John reassured me there had been many other sightings just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. He continued by telling me I would be surprised how many go unreported because people don't want to be ridiculed for what they know they saw. That is why he is now working with the leaders of Marion, North Carolina to give new believers a place to share their stories without judgement.

However, neither John nor the elected leaders of Marion knew just how big that group would ultimately be. During the inaugural festival they estimated five thousand people would attend over the weekend, but when forty six thousand sasquatch fans converged on the small little mountain town they were blown away.

John joked the only ones who weren't thrilled about the turnout was the State Patrol, because festival goers were tying up Interstate 40 and the town in attempts to find available parking.

The next year, Marion Leaders, Festival Committee Members and John worked out the traffic growing pains and fifty-three thousand people easily poured into the festival over the weekend. Bigfoot Enthusiasts came from as far away as Japan with the soul goal of attending. The word was obviously out and 2020 was looking to supercede the previous years, but then COVID-19 hit and Festival Committee Members had to pull the plug on their plans.

However, that hasn't stopped John and his fellow festival friends, they are already planning for September 2021 with an extended festival map of over a mile of bigfoot mania. There will be a free bouncy house zone for the kids, Bigfoot Researchers sharing their latest findings, a Bigfoot Costume and Calling Contest, and of course an assortment of vendors selling Sasquatch merchandise.

Sadly, the chances of the festival happening will depend on if a vaccine will become available for the coronavirus in time, but John and the leaders of Marion remain hopeful. If there isn't one produced in time to hold the 2021 WNC Bigfoot Festival, John says they will start to plan for 2022.

In the meantime John plans to head back into the forests of Western North Carolina to continue his sasquatch research, which has already produced a photograph of two sasquatch along the shore of Lake James and inspired an article in the Charlotte Observer.


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Thank you for taking the time to read about the adventures I take, the people I meet and the places I see.  

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