Celebrating Bigfoot - Carolina Country

Celebrating Bigfoot

The WNC Bigfoot Festival offers big fun

By Donna Campbell Smith

Celebrating Bigfoot
The author with a Bigfoot enthusiast. Photo by Deborah Brown.

The seat of McDowell County, Marion, is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and edged by the Pisgah National Forest. Some say Bigfoot lives in those mountains. John Bruner is one of the folks who believes, and it was his idea to organize a festival celebrating Bigfoot. The first annual festival was held in 2018 and tens of thousands of folks flocked to the town to take part in the festivities.

The two-day event had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic. John brought it back in 2022, and not even the predicted rain put a damper on the fun. Festival goers fall into several categories: those who believe, those who have encountered one and know, and others who are skeptics but are open to the possibility. Of course, none of those categories are required to take part in the festival. Come because it’s just good family fun.

This year’s Western North Carolina Bigfoot Festival will be held in Marion on May 20, 2023. On Saturday the downtown streets will be closed to vehicles. A shuttle service will bring festival goers to the main streets that will be lined with hundreds of vendors selling everything Bigfoot related one could imagine. Of course, there will be food vendors as well as the local eateries. The main stage, set up in front of the courthouse, will offer all day entertainment including live music, story tellers, and the annual Bigfoot Calling Contest. A play area with bouncy houses will entertain the children. Attendees can have their picture taken with the big hairy man and one may even sing a song while he plays a guitar.

Mount Ida overlooks downtown Marion

Mount Ida overlooks downtown Marion. Photo by Deborah Brown.

Bubble Fun

Donna Campbell Smith

Dr. Tim Mounce, best-selling author of creature-filled children’s books and podcast host of “All Things — Unexplained,” was a vendor for the first time at the 2022 festival.

“I had such a great time at the WNC Bigfoot Festival in Marion, North Carolina!” he says. “As a vendor, I was able to meet so many amazing people and hear so many wonderful stories. As a participant, I was lucky enough to have fun exploring this gem of a mountain town and the surrounding area.”

Dr. Tony Blevins was also a first-time festival goer last year. His own audio encounter with what he believes was a Bigfoot has ignited a keen interest in the cryptid. (“I heard him yell. Over and over,” he says of his experience that occurred while on a run.) His personal thought on Bigfoot is that it is a North American wood ape. Retired, he describes himself as an adventure seeker and cryptology enthusiast. Tony says the best part of the festival for him was meeting people and listening to their stories.

Plan your visit with enough extra time to follow Tim’s example and explore Marion and the surrounding area. Enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains and all of its attractions including Pisgah National Forest, which offers mile-high peaks, waterfalls and some of the most beautiful vistas in the state. Nearby Lake James State Park has boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and picnicking

About the Author

Donna Campbell Smith is a Carolina Country contributing writer who lives in Franklin County.

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