Bands come from miles to compete in races

Sasquatch Festival attracted thousands to Harrison's beach over weekend

For the second year running, the reborn Sasquatch Days Festival was a resounding success.

The number of vendors went up significantly, as did the number of canoe pulling teams, says Robert Reyerse, executive director of Tourism Harrison.

They are currently surveying businesses to determine the economic spinoff for the Village. The festival was resurrected from decades-long hiatus as a way to expand the summer tourism season into June, in addition to expanding the Village culturally.

The weekend included a salmon barbecue, canoe pulling, drumming, ceremonial blessings from an elder, interpretive walks, and even Sasquatch mascots interacting with the public.

There were 10 First Nations band that attended, from as far away as Nooksack, WA and Victoria, said Mayor Leo Facio. He said he’s proud that the Village is offering such a distinct cultural event.

“It is unique for the Fraser Valley,” Facio said. “This (festival) happened here in 1938, so we’re really recreating history here.”

But some of the logistics of the event haven’t sat well with at least one Harrison business owner.

Motel and RV park owner Andrew Baziuk wrote a letter to editor (see page 7) wondering why people were allowed to camp in the overflow parking lot owned by the Village. Overnight camping is not allowed on that site throughout the year.

Reyerse explained to the Observer that canoe teams were allowed to camp last year at the parking lot, due to their need to store their canoes overnight. The canoes are in excess of 50 ft, he added.

“Last year it was agreed that some of the competitors could stay there,” Reyerse said. “To get this kind of event happening, you have to provide accommodations for the teams with 50 to 60 ft canoes. They can’t fit into a campground.”

The canoes are sacred to their owners, Reyerse said. And in the middle of a competition, the teams don’t want to leave their canoes out of sight.

“They have to camp beside them,” he said.

Two portable toilets were put on the lot to accommodate the campers.

“We don’t want a lot of people staying there (on the lot),” said Facio, but he said that some campers were allowed on the site to “provide security” for the canoes overnight.

Facio was also unsure of room and campsite capacities over the weekend, but said the event obviously brought business into the community through the thousands of visitors attending the two-day event.

By press time, Baziuk had not responded to an email inquiring if he could house a 50 ft canoe on his property.

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