People and Places: N.C. Black Bear Festival returns to Plymouth

People and Places

You don’t have to go far in the Washington County Town of Plymouth to know they like to feature a certain creature.

“There’s a Black Bear on our water tower, our police cars,” said Tom Harrison, Director of N.C. Black Bear Festival. There’s a new bear track landing, it’s the neatest canoe and kayak launch facility in the state. So, everybody is incorporating the black bear into the fabric of our community.”

And there’s a reason why. 

In that part of the state, Black Bears are everywhere.

“We’ve got the world’s highest Black Bear density on the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula,” said Harrison. This is the cornucopia of wildlife and the breadbasket of the state and it’s sparsely populated so it’s a perfect place for bears to thrive.”

And it makes Plymouth the perfect home for the annual North Carolina Black Bear Festival.

This year, celebrating its fifth anniversary.

“We’ve just won best festival in the state again for the second time in four years,” said Harrison. We’ve added a lot of new things this year so it’s really going to be a lot of fun.”

Bears became a passion for the festival director, Tom Harrison, some 25 years ago.

“I enjoy going out and photographing them and videoing Black Bears,” said Harrison.

But the festival didn’t come about until 2015 after a colleague of Tom’s asked him a simple question.

“Have you ever thought about doing a black bear festival?” said Harrison. And my jaw hit the floor. And I thought, what a great idea! So, three days later we had our first bear festival meeting. Three months later we had our first bear festival with over 30 activities, and we won best new festival in the state of North Carolina, just coming out of the gate. We just wanted to plant our flag and say Plymouth is the home of the North Carolina Black Bear Festival.”

And the festival took off from there, from 7,000 people in attendance that first year to more than 30,000 last year.

And all those visitors are a win-win for the Town of Plymouth.
 

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