The fifth Sasquatch Festival in Whitehall is Sept. 25 and this year is going to be better than the ever, said Barbara Spoor, who has played a large role in planning the festival with the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce.
“This one is going to be a little different than the rest because it’s grown so much,” she said. “It definitely started off small and has grown over the years. I know one year they held it at Busty’s, which is an even smaller area than the park. But this year, it’s going to stretch across the entire vicinity of Main Street.”
Although the celebration of Sasquatch is just in its beginnings of becoming annual, Spoor sees the festival as one that will continue to bring popularity to Whitehall. With the traction building over the years, this year is one Spoor hopes everyone will remember.
“We’re going to have all of the crafts and regular, well, I say regular, vendors. So, crafts, artwork and things like that, they’re all going to be in Skenesborough Park,” she said. “Then on the other side of the pavilion between the museum and the pavilion in front of the USS Ticonderoga will be all the food vendors.”
Six years ago, the first Sasquatch Fest was put together by Dave Molenaar, and the original idea stemmed from a similar event he had heard about. Despite his unexpected passing last year, his legacy will live on through the event.
“He got the idea from a mosquito-calling contest that he found somewhere, I’m not sure where he came across it, but it was a mosquito-calling contest and so he had the idea, ‘Why don’t we do a Sasquatch-calling contest,’ and I think from there he did it one year and then it just grew. More people came the next year,” Spoor said.
With the growth of Sasquatch Fest it became known around the nation. When the third celebration was about to unfold, Whitehall was featured on ESPN. The coverage had researchers such as Paul Bartholomew and Brian Gosselin, who has sighted Sasquatch.
Spoor explained that the festival has a deep meaning to her. Being from Whitehall, she enjoys planning town-wide events because they bring people into the area and are a way for the town to be put in the spotlight.
“The whole point of the festival and the reason I keep doing it is because of the exposure it gives Whitehall. It kind of puts us on the map for people who wouldn’t typically know about Whitehall,” she said.
“Anything to get people to our town to stimulate the local economy I think is just wonderful, so that’s why I keep going on with this.”
As for food, this year there will be many vendors ready to serve up food for those who are hungry. Spoor mentioned that this year will have more vendors than before.
“Prior to 2019, they had a few vendors but they didn’t have very many and they also weren’t charging anything so the festival itself wasn’t actually making anything to operate with. It’s a not-for-profit so we don’t make anything off of it, we’re all volunteers, but obviously everything requires money. You need to pay bands and you need to add things to the festival so people will come,” she said.
Spoor has also planned for Riverside Park to be a Beer Garden for the day of Sasquatch Fest. Saratoga Draft Horse will be serving beer, wine and cider from its transformed horse trailer. This year will mark the first year alcohol is served at the event.
“I hope it shows the village and town officials that these kinds of modern and creative events can happen in our town and can happen safely,” she said. “We’re just having beer, wine and cider, that’s it. But I know it was a concern for people with it being so close to the park, they’re worrying about if the park’s going to be ruined, they don’t want crazy drunk people all over the place which I understand. But by the same token, it will attract a certain type of crowd to Whitehall, so I hope that I’ll be able to prove that. I hope that I’ll be able to show that we can host events like this.”
The festival will start promptly at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. There will be activities for every age, and it will be a day to remember. Spoor wants to thank everyone involved in helping make the festival happen. There are still volunteer positions available, so for community members who would like to lend a hand this weekend, contact Barbara Spoor at 518-751-4428.
“I want to say thank you to the rest of the Sasquatch Fest committee, Bethe Reynolds, Dana Grant, Marge Mohn, Bob Parker. This festival wouldn’t happen without all of the hands that go into it and I am primarily the one that people talk to about it but there are a lot of hands behind the scene that are doing a lot to help me out with some of the big stuff,” she said.