Vergas legend celebrated at revamped festival

ATV ride through Vergas Trails draws almost 200 at Hairy Man Festival

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Zeeva Rousu (right) took the first win in the sack races at the Vergas Hairy Man celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1. Rousu is the six-year-old daughter of Megan and Jake Rousu of Vergas.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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VERGAS — To kick off fall, hundreds visited Vergas for the Hairy Man Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The celebration began as a way to fundraise for the Long Lake Trail, which connects downtown to the city beach and onto a floating boardwalk and primitive trail that overlooks the lake.

Once the path was paid for, the trail committee disbanded. The Vergas Community Club saw value in continuing the event that celebrates a local legend — the Vergas Hairy Man.

The city of Vergas maneuvers changes like the towering big-footed creature evades being found. After the community club took over the annual fall event, the 5K run was replaced with activities for friends and families. One big draw was an ATV ride through the legendary Vergas Tails, where encounters happen with ghost trains, in haunted graveyards and with the Hairy Man.

Vergas City Utilities Superintendent Mike DuFrane volunteered at the event. He noted the ATV ride drew in more than 100 riders in its inaugural year. He applauded Butch Zitzow who organized the event. (It was later noted that the official tally of ATV riders was 184.)


Ethan Bracken, 8, teamed up with Clayton Osborn, 6, for the three-legged race during the family fun events at the Vergas Hairy Man celebration.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The festival drew visitors from around the area, including Lisa Peterson. She attended with four other residents from Perham and competed in a scavenger hunt/race. Peterson explained there were activities at several stops where tasks had to be completed.

“One had a team member eat spicy spaghetti, then there was finding a rock with our number, drinking Sasquatch juice, solving riddles … my favorite was going over a bridge with three different modes of transportation,” she said.

Teammate Jolene Miller added the experience was fun and a great way to bond with her friends.

Rural Barnesville, Minn., residents Stacy and Ryan Lindbom attended with their son Ryn. The 11-year-old enjoys everything Bigfoot and has attended the Vergas event the past few years. He said without the run “it’s still a lot of fun.”

The winners of the Vergas Hairy Man race were Perham residents: Lisa Peterson (from left), Carol Schmitz, Tanya Livdahl and Jolene Miller.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

There were also plenty of local residents getting out on the seasonable fall day to support the community club event. Rural Vergas resident Sarah Grahn made her debut appearance at the Hairy Man celebration. She noted when her kids learned about the races, they were eager to attend as well. The festival offered pumpkin pushing, a three-legged race and a sack race.

Vergas resident Megan Rousu attended the Hairy Man Festival with her husband Jake Rousu and their daughter Zeeva, 6.

“We live in the community and felt it was important to be part of the community event,” she said, adding the community club has done a “great” job reinventing the Hairy Man celebration.

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Ryan Lindbom and his son Ryn, 11, cruised down the three-legged race course. The family is from rural Barnesville, Minn., and attended the event with the matriarch of the family, Stacy. Ryn has had a longstanding appreciation for the legend of Bigfoot and has attended the event the past few years.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Emma Carruth, 6, was relaxed and ready to roll prior to the first round of the pumpkin races at the Vergas Hairy Man celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1. The daughter of Erica and Dave Carruth of Fargo, N.D., won the first round.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
Ponsford residents David Harper and his sister Lee Harper (right) attended the Vergas Hairy Man celebration with their nephews and joined in with the family fun games.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
Sarah Grahn.JPG
Sarah Grahn, rural Vergas, looked to the Vergas Lions to provide food and refreshments for the family during the Vergas Hairy Man celebration Saturday, Oct. 1.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune


People of all ages and their pets attended the Vergas Hairy Man celebration, which included activities as well as a farmer's market.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Winners of the family games were given the choice between picking a Hairy Man metal or sweet candy treats.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
Bean bag boards were set up for families to enjoy at their own leisure at the Vergas Hairy Man celebration.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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“The last order was either a Double Papa Burger or a double bacon,” recalled employee Wendy Olson. “I’ve been working here for four or five years. At first, it (the last day) was sad, but then people kept coming in; the line grew and grew. By the end it was bittersweet.”