On Friday, September 17, I drove from my Arlington, Texas home to Jefferson, Texas, where I was due to speak the following morning at the Original Texas Bigfoot Conference. It was an event organized by Craig Woolheater (of Cryptomundo), and which saw a number of good, intriguing presentations, and a crowd of almost 200 people. And a great time was had by one and all.
Most of the speakers rolled into town late on the Friday afternoon. As well as me, they included Lyle Blackburn (author of Lizard Man and The Beast of Boggy Creek) and Ken Gerhard (who penned Big Bird! and Encounters with Flying Humanoids). Also there were John Kirk (who wrote the excellent In the Domain of the Lake Monsters) and Rob Riggs (of In the Big Thicket).
Things kicked off with a Friday night Mexican dinner for about 30 people, at which old friendships were rekindled and new ones were made. And the good thing is that the talk wasn't all of Bigfoot. It was a bunch of like-minded friends just having a relaxing, fun night - which is how it should be.
Jefferson, for those who may not know it, is an old East Texas town. It's filled to the brim with history, mystery, and tales of all-things weird. In other words, it's the perfect place to hold a Bigfoot conference.
Things began around 10.00 a.m., when the doors opened and the audience began to arrive. One of the most refreshing things about the conference was the lack of egos. I can't tell you how many events I have spoken at where some over-inflated egotistical type throws a tantrum of the type most seen in a five-year-old spoiled brat. Or, when some speaker gets on a rant of the "don't you know who I am?" kind.
Thankfully, there was none of that nonsense at the Original Texas Bigfoot Conference. What was present was a deep sense of community, of speakers and audience all on the same level, all asking questions and all looking for answers.
As for the subjects under discussion, they were wide-ranging. I spoke on the controversial issue of so-called "Wild Men" and Bigfoot-type entities in the UK, but with the emphasis on the former, such as the Wild Man of Orford.
Ken Gerhard's lecture was titled "Bigfoot in Mexico and Mesoamerica." Given that Ken knows a great deal about both areas, he was the ideal person to speak about the fact that Bigfoot is not just seen in the United States. As Ken demonstrated, the creatures (or, at least, similar ones) turn up here, there, and everywhere.
Both Lyle Blackburn and Rob Riggs showed that Bigfoot was far closer to home than many attending the gig may even have realized. Lyle spoke on "East Texas Bigfoot: History, Legends, and Modern Sightings." Rob, meanwhile, focused on his personal Bigfoot research, much of which was spent in the Big Thicket area of Texas - and which is chronicled in Rob's book, In the Big Thicket.
As for John Kirk, he lectured on "The Search for Sasquatch: Reverting to Scientific Principles." In a very grounded and logic-filled presentation, John brought home to the audience the importance of studying the Bigfoot phenomenon in a fashion that places science and common-sense at the forefront.
Following the lectures, there was a lively Q&A, which covered such things as the upsides and the negative sides of cryptozoological-driven "reality TV," the Bigfoot community, the angle of DNA analysis, and the search for the truth.
The evening was rounded off with (a) an excellent barbecue dinner; (b) a preview of the upcoming movie Something in the Woods; and (c) a showing of Bobcat Goldthwait's movie, Willow Creek, which is an excellent, cool production that I definitely recommend.
So, in conclusion, it was a great couple of days. And, if you couldn't make it, keep a look-out for next year's event!