MARION, N.C. — Do you believe?
In September, folks in McDowell County, N.C. welcomed one and all to the first WNC Bigfoot Festival. The one-day event drew in thousands of Sasquatch enthusiasts to the city of Marion.
The festival was the brainchild of John Bruner, founder of the Bigfoot 911 group on Facebook.
"My interest in Bigfoot started when I was about 12-years-old. I saw the Patterson-Gimlin film, and I have been doing Bigfoot research since then, 40 years," Bruner told NBC Charlotte.
Bigfoot 911, which has more than 11,000 members worldwide, is a field research team, according to Bruner. He met some members of the group in person during a meet-and-greet last year; many also showed up to the September festival.
Bruner said the entire community got on board with his idea to make Marion a destination for all things Sasquatch.
"The businesses, they paid to have their window painted. Everybody got involved. It was such a community effort," Bruner said.
Festival-goers enjoyed all things Bigfoot such as artwork, souvenirs, and costumes as well as videos, pictures, and evidence of the beast. There were Bigfoot knocking and calling contests, and a 5K was held in the morning.
People were so excited about the festival, the t-shirts sold out before the event even started. Some even traveled from as far as Vermont and Canada. Bruner met them, too.
"They said that they needed a vacation and that this was just a fun thing to do," Bruner said.
The city of Marion has held festivals before, but the response to the Bigfoot bash was overwhelming.
"This one is quite larger than anything that we've done, ever. Yeah," said Bruner.
PHOTOS: WNC Bigfoot Festival
The food, fun, and frenzy were such a big hit, plans are already in the works for next time.
"There will be another one next year. Yes," Bruner said.
According to Facebook, the tentative date for the next event is September 14, 2019. Bruner also put out a survey asking for feedback on how to make the next Bigfoot Festival even better.