Black Bear Festival celebrates 10th birthday this weekend

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.

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

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.

“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.

This year’s festival will feature new, exciting activities, such as paddlewheel rides and some fun shows on land.

“We’re doing a Native American powwow, and that’s gonna be going on Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. We also have Golden Knights, an elite skydiving team, that will be putting on a demonstration at 1:30 in the afternoon,” 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.

This year, students are also getting involved. They’ll be selling 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. on Friday and will run through Sunday.