Sasquatch Festival to be Bigger in ‘20
By PJ Ferguson
Sasquatch holds a special relationship with the town of Whitehall. Declared as an official mascot in 2018, hundreds of sightings of the feature have been reported in the area.
One annual event celebrating “Bigfoot” has single-handedly put Whitehall on the map as a must-visit location in the Northeast during the last weekend in September – The Sasquatch Calling Festival.
Generating some 3,500 visitors this year from all over New England, Long Island and even as far as North Carolina and Michigan, the festival has grown from just a quirky idea four years ago into a regional phenomenon.
It began as a contest for competitors to mimic the growl of the legendary mythical figure and earn $100 for first prize. Dozens of children and adults gather on the bandstand in Skenesborough Park, each unleashing their unique howls to impress the judges and take home the coveted award. There is a sense of self-awareness from the contestants, resulting in many laughs from the audience, but the competition is also taken seriously.
That much hasn’t changed and it still remains the marquee event of the day, but fast forward to 2019 and there are dozens of Bigfoot themed vendors, food trucks, live entertainment, a costume contest and activities for the family to enjoy.
After 2017’s event was plagued by low attendance and terrible weather, the festival’s future was in question. Founder David Molenaar took back the torch to lead the project, resulting in 2018’s rebound event that gathered national media coverage from ESPN.
“Last year was good, this year was great,” proclaimed calling-contest judge and Sasquatch encounter witness Brian Gosselin during the 2019 festival.
The difference –young organizer Barbara Spoor at the helm of the operation. Planning the day, launching the social media efforts and leading the small group of volunteers, Spoor’s plate was full, but she was rewarded for her hard work.
“I’ve never seen the park that full,” recalled Spoor.
The event easily eclipsed attendance estimations for other events held in the park including the annual Canal Festival that culminates in a fireworks show to commemorate Independence Day.
For Sasquatch, Skenesborough Drive was reduced to one-lane traffic with vehicles parked on both sides of the street, leaving little room to get through. Food vendors were running out of supplies and commercial vendors were selling hundreds of products.
After this year’s turnout the festival is looking to expand, big-time, pun intended.
Spoor is seeking financial support from both the village and the town for next year’s event, in addition to adding alcohol vendors and bringing new exciting attractions into the fold. She has even thrown out the idea of expanding the festival into an all-weekend affair that is spread out throughout the entire village.