LONGVIEW — Local and national Sasquatch enthusiasts will get two days to celebrate the elusive beast at Cowlitz County’s fourth annual Squatch Fest — and to meet the man who shot a famous 1967 film purporting to prove the ape-like creature’s existence.
For the first time, the festival runs Friday and Saturday. The Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, extended the festival dates to better accommodate travelers and vendors, said Chamber Program Manger Amy Hallock.
The event takes place at the Cowlitz County Expo Center and Cowlitz County Fairgrounds.
“A year of planning goes into this event, and the one day just felt like it came and went so quickly. … Adding this extra day extends the time for everyone who is coming,” Hallock said.
Organizers expect nearly 3,000 people to attend Squatch Fest this year, including nearly a dozen Sasquatch experts and Bob Gimlin, whose famous 1967 film of a female Bigfoot on a timber-strewn sandbar in Northern California has been subject of many attempts to authenticate or debunk it.
“I hear over and over again how much (the speakers) love Squatch Fest and how well organized it is. … It’s grown into being able to get Bob Gimlin to come,” Hallock said.
Doors open at 4 p.m. Friday. A question-and-answer-style presentation by Mountain Monsters TV personalities Huckleberry, Jeffro and Wild Bill begins at 5 p.m. Then audience members can share their personal experiences with Bigfoot around 6:30 p.m. during “Squatch Talk.”
A beer garden is open from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The two-day “Battle of the Boarders” cornhole tournament also kicks off Friday. The competition will feature 204 cornhole players, making it the second largest event of its kind in the state, Hallock said.
Friday’s events end at 9 p.m., and doors reopen 10 a.m. Saturday for the second day of the festival.
Presentations from Bigfoot experts will take place throughout the day, starting at 11 a.m. and running through 7 p.m. Guest speakers include Dr. Jeff Meldrum; David Paulides of Missing 411; Cliff Barackman of Finding Bigfoot; Derek Randles and Shane Corson of the Olympic Project.
The “Brew Mountain” beer festival featuring 18 breweries and more than 30 different beers begins at 10 a.m. and runs in conjunction with Squatch Fest. Attendees receive a collectible wine or beer glass with the first pint purchase, courtesy of Office 842 and Hop-N-Grape, Hallock said.
Children can explores the “Kids Cave,” open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the fairgrounds’ floral building. Kids Cave activities include video games, crafts, trail mix-making, Bigfoot footprint casting and performances by Emmy Blue and The Squatchie.
In the Bush Cabin next door, the Cowlitz County Historical Museum will tell Sasquatch stories by candlelight.
Craft and food vendors will be open both days, as well as Axecutioner mobile ax throwing. Attendees can also meet Clyde Lewis of Ground Zero Media talk radio show and Bob Gimlin in the Mount St. Helens Room both days.
Also included in the event lineup are the mobile Inkbus Tattoo studio and a scavenger hunt sponsored by Guse’s Coffee.
Squatch Fest has grown by about 500 attendees annually since its inaugural year in 2017, Hallock said. The Chamber has sold tickets in 15 states and Canada, she added.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $5 for those age 15 or younger, and they cover both days of the festival. Tickets can be purchased online at www.kelsolongviewchamber.org or at the door.