On Friday, October 9 I traveled from my Arlington, Texas home to the town of Jefferson for the annual Original Texas Bigfoot Conference. It's an event organized by Craig Woolheater of Cryptomundo. Like me, most of the other speakers (Ken Gerhard, Lyle Blackburn, John Kirk, and Chester Moore) arrived on the Friday afternoon. A couple of hours later we strolled down to a nearby restaurant, along with around 50 or 60 conference attendees. As well as chowing down on some fine Mexican food, me and Ken gave an approximately thirty-minutes-long overview on the matter of the strange creatures of Texas.
That included the legendary, near-Fortean "Goat-Man" that provoked havoc, hysteria and excitement in the summer of 1969. It was a large, rampaging humanoid which was seen late at night in and around the woods of Lake Worth, Texas. The creature was variously described as scaly, cloven-hoofed, and even with horns on its head - hence the name. As we noted, however, since those long gone days, suggestions have been made that the beast was a wandering, white Bigfoot. An equally odd scenario!
Ken commented on the large body of reports of huge winged-things in Texas - including some that sounded very much like the legendary Thunderbirds of Native American lore and history, and others that, incredibly, were of a distinctly pterodactyl-like nature. On a slightly related issue, Ken brought up the matter of the very weird "Houston Batman." Reportedly, a flying, winged humanoid, it achieved brief infamy in 1953, when the local media picked up on the tale of the terrifying thing that scared the life out of three unfortunate souls late one night in the city of Houston. After the dinner, it was time to hang out and catch up with old friends until the early hours.
Saturday was the day of the conference itself. And it was good to see around 250 people turn out for the gig - all wanting to hear the latest news on Bigfoot and other Lone Star State-based cryptids. The approach this year was different to that of other years, but it worked very well. All five of us gave two lectures: one on Bigfoot, and the other on the cryptids of our own choice.
My first lecture was on sightings of Bigfoot in the vicinity of caves, caverns, and old mines. As I noted, it may be wise for the crypto-research community to spend time looking further into these connections, as there are more than a few of them. Do the Bigfoot creatures spend considerable amounts of their time hiding out underground? Just maybe, yes, they do. My second lecture was on the Chupacabra - both the Puerto Rican original of the 1990s and the Texas version of the 21st century. As I noted, the Texan version is clearly a different animal from its Puerto Rican "cousin." Indeed, the former are chiefly coyotes - albeit with a few, odd genetic issues going on. Monsters? No. Unknown animals? No. But still a degree of mystery involved? Yes.
Ken Gerhard's lectures offered the audience a wealth of data on all manner of critters. Indeed, its title was "A Menagerie of Beasts" and included the saga of the Minnesota Iceman, giant frogs, the scenario of the Loch Ness Monsters being giant salamanders, Black-Eyed Children, and huge spiders. For his second lecture, Ken discussed the matter of Bigfoot and other anomalous primates in Alaska - where Ken spent a great deal of time this year, while filming his recent TV show on H2, Missing in Alaska.
Chester Moore tackled some of the more baffling questions surrounding the existence of Bigfoot - such as, for example, why is it that the bones of the beasts have never been found? For his second lecture, Chester elected to discuss the matter of "wolves and their hybrids in the American South." John Kirk is a Brit who lives in Canada. That being the case, you won't be surprised to learn that John shared with the audience his research into (a) Bigfoot in Canada; and (b) "Caddy," the resident sea-serpent(s) of Cadboro Bay. As for Lyle Blackburn, he had two very different beasts in mind: the Bigfoot of East Texas' Piney Woods, and such controversial things as "reptilian humanoids" and "lizard men." And it was all followed by a lively Q&A.
Then, around 6:30 p.m.. dozens of us headed off to a nearby catfish restaurant for dinner, laughs, and good conversation - after which Lyle gave a night-time, open-air lecture on his very latest research and findings on the famous Beast of Boggy Creek, Arkansas. It was a good way to end what was an excellent couple of days!