Sadly, the 26th Annual Ohio Bigfoot Conference has come and passed - and it was hugely successful. When I arrived Friday night at The Lodge in Salt Fork State Park, it was jammed wall to wall with people. In the dozen of conferences I have attended, this was one of the biggest crowds I have seen yet to date - with weekend estimates being 575 paid attendees and over 3000 visitors to the Vendor Alley.
With everyone being so busy, it was difficult to meet up with everyone from my normal group at once. We met with Eric Altman and Bob Hipp right off the bat. This is when things get foggy. You see, when we met up with Bob Hipp - I also became reaccquainted with Bob's Dead Man's Brew. The magic of the Brew is that somehow Bob's container never becomes empty, which means you never quit drinking it. Thank God I had a D.D. this weekend!
We hooked up with Craig Woolheater, Monica Rawlins, Gino Napoli, Bill Dranginis, Sharon Lee, "Joisey" Gene Romo, Mike and Diana Esordi, Henry May, Abe Del Rio, and a score of others. These are my people and I enjoy every moment of my Conference experience with them. I guess really I should call them my extended family and I cherish each one of them deeply.
The highlight of my weekend was getting to hang out with a man I have followed for a long time, Mr. John Kirk. Our conversation was the perfect mix of serious crypto discussion and off the wall topics. In his own way, John assisted me in re-igniting my fire to pursue my passion and to grass roots my research again. After this session under the learning tree, we took to the conference room to watch a new documentary - with a surprise dissertation/ Q&A with John Kirk and Tom Yamerone at the end.
At our annual Post Conference "Balls of Fury Pit Party" on Saturday, we had a chance to cut loose with Cliff Barackman. I cannot say nice enough things about Cliff. Word to the wise however, if you see a person enjoying themselves with company - ASSUME it is rude to interrupt them. Cliff is a class act, not to mention one of the best field researchers out there.
I didn't get a chance to grab a photo with Tom Yamerone or Bob Gimlin this year sadly. Bob was in huge demand, and by the time I got to have a few moments with him - he was so excited to go watch the fight on TV. He offered for myself and my entourage to come watch the fight with Todd Prescott and himself, but we needed to get some lunch. We spent a few more moments with Bob and then left to eat Lunch at "The Forum" Restaurant in Cambridge, OH. Finding yourself in need of a good meal if you are in the area - eat there! Phenomenal.
Sunday Night was our final night in Salt Fork. After coming back from dinner - we were invited to a Campfire Sit by John and Robin Cartwright. Joined by Jeff Thomas, his wife, and Henry May - we kicked back and walked down memory lane and shared many laughs and maybe even a tear or two. Midnight hit and we all went to bed. Monday morning, those of us left shared our goodbyes. We departed Salt Fork to take Henry May to the Akron Airport, and then hit old Interstate 80 back home.
I'm sorry if you all read this article and mistaken it for a recount of the conference. This was more of a personal trip then a professional journey. Bigfoot Research was the element to brought us all together. It is our history together that bonded these friendships. This trip was about making more memories with one of my favorite groups of people - with more people being added in every year. You can't get that from a series of lectures... you get that from experience.
Special thanks to Ray Hendershot, Taylor Gibbs, and Dustin Kinley for making the trip with me - and building more memories for our life journey. Also to Monica, for affording me the opportunity to hold court with a legend. To John Kirk, thanks for going above and beyond to spend some time and offer advice and kind words to a group of "kids" wanting to build a better future for cryptozoology.
Keep on Squatchin'