The 3rd Annual Creature Weekend Event has come to pass in writing this blog entry, and let me say what a fantastic time was had by those in attendance. Creature Weekend proved to be the EVENT to be at for those who truly have a passion in cryptozoological research. Though this could have been called a true Bigfoot conference by subject matter - no other Cryptids presented upon - it was full of fun and information, reminiscent of the conferences of old. Bruce Harrington and his team of sponsors and volunteers put on a hell of a program. I CANNOT WAIT for next years event.
My traveling partner for this trip back to Salt Fork State Park Lodge in Ohio was none other than the not so affable James Baker aka "The Bake Shop" - former co-host on The Sasquatch Experience Podcast and my research partner. This was Bake Shop's first trip to SFSP and he was very impressed at the facility. Amazed is probably more accurate. We packed the Equinox up at 10 and departed for SFSP.
After arriving a little later then expected (Pittsburgh Traffic and FOOD), we checked in and met up with Crypto-Mundo Founder/CEO and good friend Craig Woolheater, “Eerie Eric and Creepy Kerrie”, MNBRT Radio Host Abe Del Rio, “Joisey" Gene Romo, and Jeff “The Shadow” Thomas, and headed on a top secret trip to meet our special guest for the weekend - arranged for a very grateful audience by Craig. Spending another hour and twenty minutes in the car was no problem -especially when we arrived at the house of “Trapper” John Tice of the hit show, "Mountain Monsters" on the Destination America Channel.
Trapper graciously welcomed us into his home where we enjoyed shooting the breeze, enjoyed a few “home-made” brews, and watched a couple episodes of “Mountain Monsters”- with exclusive in home commentary by Trapper himself. Trapper was genuinely a great man, very welcoming, and soon became fast friends with all of us. Hours later, a couple of us walked out to the cars and drove the rest of our “inebriated brothers” back to the Lodge. I decided to be a “good boy’ this weekend and take it easy on my liver - Forkchop loves to party, but a man can only handle so much. HAHAHA!
Saturday was the Creature Weekend Conference, started off by the PA Bigfoot Society Evidence Presentation. A two part lecture, Terrie Seech and Carey Rupert did a short presentation on Women in Bigfooting. Eric Altman and Dave Rupert followed up with a PBS Evidence Presentation; which was attended by Conference Speaker John Mionczynski (just to add a bit of pressure!). A good presentation, and the audience really seemed into it. Trapper John arrived at the Crypto-Mundo Table around 10am and was an instant hit with the attendees. Again, this man loves his fans and takes his time greeting and talking to each individual.
The Speakers Presentations started at 2pm, kicked off by Tim Stover of the Ohio Bigfoot Hunters. Tim is another guy who is passionate about his research and loves talking about it to the people. I wasn’t too familiar with Tim, but by the end of the presentation I felt like I just got done talking to my best friend. Tim had a great way of using humor and stories to connect with the audience. For his first Conference speaking engagement- he gets an “A” from the Forkchop.
Dr. Jeff Meldrum followed Tim. I’ve listened to Meldrum lecture several times and his lecture is always a wealth of information. In the past he could be a little dry, but this time he seemed to be carrying the same amount of energy and enthusiasm that Tim set earlier in the program. Dr. Meldrum divulged that he was a “Trekkie” and used some of the “Captain’s Oath of the USS Enterprise” to relate to the mission of discovering new species. A Trekkie myself, I totally related to this. Again, Doc Meldrum likes to talk about feet. Really Big Feet. Though at times he sounds like a college professor - go figure - it was informative and I had some good takeaways.
Trapper John had a few words for the audience, who received him very warmly and many commented that they wished he was a speaker. Trapper seemed at home talking to the audience, relating some personal stories -but pointedly spoke to us about making sure our children get back in nature. It was a good moment seeing my new found friend up there out of his element - entertaining his friends.
John Mionczynski was a gentleman that I have NEVER heard speak before at a conference. John is soft spoken, but makes each one of his words matter. He related his own personal encounter with what he believes to be a Sasquatch; and actually makes you feel like you are there when he tells it. John then spoke on his background as a Wildlife Consultant for the US Forestry Service. Using his knowledge of habitat and food sources, he has determined that there is sufficient food sources for large primates in North America. Very good presentation. Late in the night, John joined some of us for a few drinks and conversation, sharing some laughs and giving us more insight on our favorite mystery primate.
Around 6:30pm, the "Cryptomundo Crew" headed to Theo’s in Cambridge for Dinner. Met by long time social networking friends Greg and Dana Newkirk of “ Roadtrippers" fame, we all enjoyed great food and even greater company. After the "Mashed Potato Incident" and some supply issues with Pie; Trapper John and us parted ways. Unfortunately dinner ran long and AGAIN I missed the presentations of Bill Munns and Doug Waller. Be rest assured fair readers, those in attendance gave those two gentleman great reviews. (If I can find a written review of Munns and Waller’s presentations - I will post the link here.)
Creature Weekend also hosted the “Creature Weekend Experience” for willing participants, and based upon the amount of folks who stopped by our small group conversation, was a big hit. This event was a test of skills in a controlled environment. Whoever provided the best evidence won two tickets to next years event. Though the situation was controlled, some believe the legendary Bigfoot himself showed up to throw a couple real wrenches into the the situation. It was reported that two researchers who participated heard heavy movement in an area just outside the control zone. Another group reported wood knocks in response to the simulated activities… interesting, huh? Bob Eddy, a former volunteer Sheriff’s Deputy won the contest. If the name sounds familiar, its because his children had an experience at Salt Fork, documented on “Monsters and Mysteries of America”.
The Final Event for Creature Weekend was a Evidence Collection Workshop and BBQ held at Deerassic Park, a beautiful facility that sits on the outskirts of SFSP. Dr. Meldrum explained and demonstrated the proper way to cast tracks -and gave insight into some casting materials. Plaster of Paris is apparently back in vogue, by the way. Spray foam is also a great way to document found tracks, but you will not pick up some critical detailed elements. Those pesky little dermal ridges won’t show up with the foam. It still makes a nice cast though. All this information can be found in Dr. Meldrum’s Sasquatch Field Guide. This was all wrapped up as we said goodbye to the speakers, then departed for the airport. Creature Weekend was officially over.