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Bigfoot Festival celebrates Ohio’s search for Sasquatch

Three people pose and smile next to two large cutouts of Bigfoot, a hairy humanoid.
Courtesy of Bea Mills
Bigfoot enthusiasts celebrated the urban legend in Logan last year at the inaugural Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival

Hocking Hills is known for its hiking trails and scenic views. But, according to some, it has some un-natural sights as well. The region is marketing itself as Ohio’s Bigfoot home – and this weekend marks the second annual Bigfoot Festival in Logan.

Bea Mills, the organizer of the festival, said the celebration will give Bigfoot enthusiasts and skeptics alike the opportunity to go outside and enjoy the Appalachian landscape.

“Why not celebrate Bigfoot and get more people outdoors to go find this big hairy hide-and-seek World Champion right here in the Hocking region of Ohio?” she said.

The festival, Aug. 4 and 5, will feature live music, a Sasquatch howling contest, and, of course, a moonlit hike in search of the fabled furry creature.

Ohio’s cryptid connection

Ohio is a hotbed for Sasquatch sightings. The state ranked 4th nationally in alleged encounters, reporting more than 300 reported Bigfoot spottings since the 1940s, according to data from BigFoot Field Researchers Organization. The most recent one was just this year in Warren County.

The local lore has led to conferences, investigations and youth camps. Last year, Mills decided to make an even bigger spectacle out of the mysterious creature through a free, two-day festival.

“It also helps support local business. So those ma’ and pa’ shops, your crafters, everyone can get involved with Bigfoot,” she said.

A crowd of people mill around a street in Logan, stopping at the gray festival tents that line the street at the Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival last year.
Bea Mills
Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival
Mills, the organizer of the Bigfoot festival, was surprised at the turnout of last year's festival. She said she expects even more this year.

More than 10,000 people showed up for the inaugural event, more than doubling Logan’s population for the weekend. Mills said she’s expecting an even bigger turnout this year. She hopes the flocks of Bigfoot believers not only boost tourism in the area, but also connect with the local community.

“Every single person that I spoke to locally commented on how nice these Bigfoot enthusiasts were,” Mills said. “We might be a little kooky or a little nerdy, but we’re nice people.”

Urban legend in Appalachia

A white crescent moon against a black backdrop shows a glimpse of the silhouette of a Bigfoot-like creature standing in the woods. To the left of the graphic, it reads "Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival".
Bea Mills
Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival
The festival is a chance for Ohioans to go outdoors and explore the Hocking Hills region, in hopes of spotting the mythical Bigfoot along the way.

Bigfoot is just one urban legend that’s taken hold in the Ohio River Valley. There’s also the Mothman in Point Pleasant, West Virginia and theLittle Green Menin Kelly, Kentucky.

The region’s natural features make it ripe for these kinds of stories, Mills said. The expansive waterways and woods lend themselves well to mystery – especially Sasquatch, whose legend has been harbored in the hills for decades.

“Nature plays a huge component in Bigfoot reports,” Mills said. “Your original historical written records come from Portsmouth, Marietta, Gallipolis, right there along the Ohio River.”

Mills said, most importantly, the search for Bigfoot brings people together to explore Ohio’s natural landscape – and that’s no small feat.

“Everyone has just as good a shot to see a Sasquatch as the next person,” she said. “So, keeping it fun and light-hearted is just paramount. And it's actually absolutely fantastic to watch.”

Kendall Crawford is a reporter for The Ohio Newsroom. She most recently worked as a reporter at Iowa Public Radio.