Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ohio Bigfoot conference and festival

When it comes to finding Bigfoot, the mysterious creature will always have the upper hand. “They are the boss of the woods. They can outsmart any of us when we’re around them,” said Marc DeWerth, the organizer of the Ohio Bigfoot Conference held each year at Salt Fork State Park. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 14, with a Bigfoot Festival taking place on Sunday, May 15. 

The conference, started in 1989 by Don Keating and held in Newcomerstown until 2004, moved to Salt Fork in 2005. The event has grown into the premier Bigfoot conference in the world and draws thousands of people from around the United States and beyond each year.

DeWerth became interested in Bigfoot in the late 1970s when he and his grandfather were watching an episode of the “In Search Of” television show about Bigfoot. “I asked my grandfather if he thought they were real and he said he thought they were,” said DeWerth who later went to the library to check out the book, “Sasquatch, Apes Among Us” by John Green. “There was a map in the book that showed Ohio had 17 sightings. From that day I was hooked.” 

It was his wife’s family reunion in 1989 in Tippecanoe that started DeWerth collecting Bigfoot stories as he began talking with people about the creatures and heard many stories from eyewitnesses. Since then, DeWerth has made public presentations,
like a recent one at the library in Millersburg, and always hears more stories from those who attend. He’s even heard accounts from members of the Amish faith, who hang around until others have left before they tell their stories. 

The opportunistic Bigfoot can adapt to any forest or even a subdivision, where they have been known to go through garbage cans searching for food. They may also prey on the deer population for food. According to DeWerth, estimates have put the population of Bigfoot in Ohio at 10 to 30 creatures. 

DeWerth couldn’t believe his own eyes when in 1997 at Wills Creek, an area approximately 15 miles south of Coshocton, he briefly spotted a Bigfoot. “I thought now I know what all those people in Guernsey, Tuscarawas and Coshocton Counties are seeing.” 

Though there have been sightings reported previously in the areas of Midvale, Dennison and Uhrichsville, overall sightings in Tuscarawas County are down most likely due to the increasing population and building. 

DeWerth said though avid Bigfoot hunters visit Salt Fork State Park year-round, one of the sites experiencing the most recent activity is Holmes County and the Mohican area. In Harrison County, especially around Tappan Lake, there have been a few sightings here and there. 

The 2016 Ohio Bigfoot Conference will feature some of the top Bigfoot investigators including James “Bobo” Fay and Cliff Barackman from Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot.” Writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait and some of the cast and crew from the Willow Creek movie will be in attendance at the conference for a special showing of the film. There will even be a musician who composes and sings songs about Bigfoot. 

DeWerth is pleased that this year’s conference sold out in 82 minutes. Still there are several opportunities for Bigfoot hunters and families to enjoy. On Saturday, the vendors area is open to the public and on Sunday, May 15 the Ohio Bigfoot Festival and the Family Friendly Bigfoot Hike will take place. Visit for information and registration on Sunday’s activities. 

According to DeWerth, if you are interested in finding Bigfoot, the best time to look is in the spring and fall; so all mushroom hunters, hikers and game hunters should be on the lookout.

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