Black Bear Festival 10th birthday celebration starts tonight

PLYMOUTH, N.C. (WITN)— One festival in Eastern Carolina is celebrating a decade of success this weekend. Happy 10th birthday to the National Black Bear Festival!

While the festival will still mostly be about celebrating the beloved black bear, visitors will also enjoy music, balloons, and cake to mark the festival’s decade of success.

“We are celebrating in a big way this year with a birthday bash,” said Black Bear Festival Director Tom Harrison.

There will be a birthday bash, with a birthday tent, and celebratory paddlewheel cruises. They will also have vendors, a fireworks show, a car show, and new exciting land shows like a Native American Powwow and Golden Knights elite skydiving team demonstration.

“Our first year, we had a $7,000 budget; now it’s in the six figures, and our number of people has just increased exponentially,” said Harrison.

Not only is the festival fun for families, but it’s also helping Plymouth businesses.

“Last year, we probably did four days’ worth of business in six hours during the Black Bear Festival, and we expect it to be even bigger this year,” said Riverview Cafe Owner Louis Manring.

Harrison says they also make sure attendees learn about the star of the festival, Eastern Carolina’s black bears.

“It’s important to educate our North Carolinians, our visitors of this great North Carolina superlative, that we’ve got the largest black bears in the world and the highest black beard density,” said Harrison.

Also this year, students are getting involved. They’ll sell buttons for $5.00 a piece to help raise money for the festival. The top seller will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

The festival will start at 5 p.m. today and run through Sunday. The vendors will be set up on West Water Street, and the paddlewheel cruises will happen on the Roanoke River.