Bigfoot, Food, family, Powerpoint and…Chainsaws?

This past weekend Alan and Jesse of the Fathom Frontiers Team attended and participated in the 2013 Ohio Bigfoot Conference. What follows is a summary of the weekend which will be followed by a series of posts detailing our adventures during the conference.

If you have never attended a Bigfoot conference, I urge you to sweep aside any preconceived notions you might have. Sure, the main hub is Bigfoot but the surrounding connectors are the drivers of what happens here. These are stories exchanged over shared pizza and beer. This is a family vacation. This is seeing the glimmer of excitement shared between young kids and kids at heart. This is about a PhD and a woman who works a 9-5 and a guy who drives a big rig standing in a circle on common ground sharing a passion for something that crosses cultural and social lines. If you think you know Bigfooting today, you have not been here.

This is the story of one such Bigfoot conference. I would not claim to say it is like any other, as I have not been. Writing from the experiences I have seen and been a part of here, this is my humble submission to those who would hear me.

The 2013 Ohio Bigfoot Experience was a full weekend that sends you home with no doubt that you had a squatchin’ great time. With events that cater to the whole family, researchers and the curious-no one got left behind.

Mark Maisel, Thom Powell and Esteban Sarmiento discuss a possible Bigfoot print cast prior to the advanced Hike at Salt Fork State Park.

(L-R)Mark Maisel, Thom Powell and Esteban Sarmiento discuss a possible Bigfoot print cast prior to the advanced Hike at Salt Fork State Park.

Beginning on Friday afternoon there was an advanced hike that was more rugged, off trail and in areas that BFRO and other researchers have had encounters before. The hike was followed up that evening with a well-earned VIP dinner at Theo’s, a local restaurant in Cambridge, Ohio. After dinner those who wanted to could head back to the Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center for a casual Meet & Greet with the speakers. These two parts of the event are another aspect that sets this conference apart from others. There is no red rope, no overly pumped up security guard, (Though I urge you to not question a guy nick-named “Coyote”) just a shared meal and conversation among friends new and old.

Saturday is the core of the conference. It is a day jam packed with people, vendors and a hearty line-up of speakers. This year’s featured speakers included Thom Powell, Dr. Russ Jones & Mr. Mark Maisel of the BFRO, Dr. Esteban Sarmiento and Loren Coleman. Mixed into the fray of speakers are local Bigfoot researchers sharing experiences and encounters, a film trailer by the director of a new documentary film on people who have had sightings and how it has affected their lives, an auction of Bigfoot related materials and the induction of this year’s member of the Ohio Bigfoot Hall of Fame, John Greene.

Picture in your mind a flowing river with multiple veins shooting off to all sides. This was the river of people flowing through the vast sea of vendors all Saturday. They stop to peruse the wares of the nearly twenty vendors selling a variety of items. These included the perfunctory sea of T-shirts, stickers and Bigfoot related films. That however, is where the expected fades into the realm of unexpected creative insights that only a special passion for what you do can be manifested. To wind down the Saturday events, there was a massive bone fire held outside the lodge.

Sunday is the finale of the conference with another day filled with a whole host of events. Highlights included separate stations that covered a variety of topics including witness interviewing, what to bring out to the woods while investigating, print casting and how to use technology such as trail cameras and other devices while in the field. One of the most entertaining parts of the day was a live demonstration of chainsaw carving a Bigfoot, and a big foot, a really big foot. Lunch was provided, and then the day wrapped up with a family hike on Morgan’s Knob. The ability to have the vast resources of Salt Fork State Park, its incredible team of people and its 17,000 acres is an invaluable asset, and Marc DeWerth, President of the Ohio Bigfoot Organization and organizer of the conference has maximized those opportunities.