B y PJ Ferguson

 

COVID-19 or not, Whitehall will not rest on celebrating their beloved mascot.

While the Sasquatch Calling Festival has been canceled this year because of the pandemic, an event celebrating the mythical creature may still occur on Sept. 26, provided the town permits it.

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson, owner of Vermont Marble, Granite, Slate and Soapstone Company, which has a showroom on Route 4 in Whitehall, is looking to hold the festival on his property or in Skenesborough Park.

The event, titled “The Whitehall Bigfoot Festival,” would look to mirror the Calling Festival and its popular activities and amenities.

“It could be a big, big success still,” said Thompson, who touted the festival’s growing attendance over the past several years.

Thompson criticized the Calling Festival’s organizer, Barbara Spoor, for making the decision without a committee meeting and for past attempts to include alcohol vendors.

“I think it’s a stupid idea,” said Thompson of the proposal of serving alcohol at a ‘family event.’ “It’s just asking for trouble. We don’t need any rowdies.”

Thompson went on to stress that the festival should continue to be held despite the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“If you’re afraid to get sick, don’t come,” he said, “If people want to wear masks and stay six feet apart so be it,” adding that vendor booths will be six to ten feet apart but that he believes masks do more harm than good.

In response, Spoor is condemning Thompson’s attempt to hold a similar festival this year.

“I’m not supporting this festival whatsoever,” she said. “This festival caters to tourists and it is irresponsible to try to plan a festival expecting 3,000 people from around the country, knowing there are outbreaks.”

Spoor said she did talk to committee members prior to canceling this year’s event and that the decision was made after the governor’s office couldn’t confirm if an event of that size would be legally permitted.

Barbara Spoor

She called Thompson’s efforts “a slap in the face.”

“He makes money on this and I don’t, that’s the difference,” said Spoor, who added that she has not taken any compensation and has volunteered while Thompson profits from his booth sales.

In response to Thompson’s criticisms on adding alcohol vendors to the fest, Spoor cited Lake George and other surrounding festivals in the area that already include the sale of booze with a limited number of issues.

“It would only entice more people to spend more time in Whitehall,” she said.

Spoor shared an email exchange with Thompson after she messaged vendors to announce the cancellation of this year’s festival.

“Not worth a ‘committee’ meeting to discuss this important matter?” wrote Thompson to Spoor in response to the announcement, “I assume this will include your resignation as well?”

Spoor feels it will be difficult for Thompson to pull off holding the festival with all obstacles he will likely face.

“He’s had it out for me,” she said, “He’s got hurdles he’ll have to jump through. He can’t just have a festival.”

In their most recent email exchange, Thompson expressed that he felt it was up to attendees and the vendors to participate in the festival if they so choose.

“Vendors that want to participate in the fourth annual Sasquatch Calling Festival should be allowed to do so. Festival goers that wish to come and participate, should be allowed to do so. People who want a 100% guarantee not to get the virus, or any other cold at the festival, or for that matter, get bitten by a mosquito at the festival, should STAY HOME Barbara,” he wrote.

Spoor still has plans for a virtual Calling Festival to be held online with participants submitting videos of their best impressions of the Squatch howl.

Thompson is currently looking for vendors for the Whitehall Bigfoot Festival, if interested, contact him at 802-236-3400.

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