Sasquatch enthusiasts meet for Pocatello Bigfoot Conference
POCATELLO — Dozens of people gathered at a local conference recently to share personal experiences involving the legendary creature known as sasquatch, and to hear presentations by leading experts in “bigfooting.”
The Pocatello Bigfoot Conference was hosted Friday and Saturday at the Warehouse, 1009 S. Second Ave.
The legend of Bigfoot, a large, ape-like creature who walks on two legs and has, as the name suggests, big feet, has persisted for years.
In the 19th century, stories were told among mountain men and Native American tribes of wild giants living in the mountains.
Today, Bigfoot still has plenty of believers.
Shows like Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot,” which recently ended after nine seasons, are watched by millions, and Bigfoot conferences, hosted throughout the nation, are attended by avid believers and casual fans alike.
Brandon Tennant, a lifelong resident of Pocatello and the owner of sasquatchprints.com, a screenprinting company which specializes in Bigfoot designs, said he has been drawing pictures of Bigfoot since childhood.
He attended his first conference as a vendor in 2004, and since then has put effort into starting a conference in Pocatello. Tennant hosted this conference, and he said he would like to make it an annual event.
Speakers at the conference included Cliff Barackman, a cast member on “Finding Bigfoot,” Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, and Becky Cook, author of “Bigfoot Lives in Idaho.”
According to Tennant, attendees of these conferences are extremely diverse.
“There is a whole spectrum of people from absolute crazy to Dr. Meldrum backing up everything with facts,” said Tennant, who is himself a hardcore believer in the animal.
However, according to Barackman, the widespread interest in the phenomenon doesn’t particularly rely on what people believe sasquatches to be.
“People love the subject,” Barackman said. “Whether they think they’re real animals, or just some sort of cultural thing, they love it. And I think it’s probably because they hold a strange mirror up to ourselves.”
Barackman said sasquatches interest people because they are a “midpoint” between the intelligent, civilized species humans are today and their wild ancestors.
Meldrum agreed with Barackman, saying that the obsession with Bigfoot can be mirrored in the fact that one of the most popular spots at zoos is the primate exhibit.
“We see ourselves reflected in a sort of unusual way,” Meldrum said. “And the digital age has promoted the exchange of information and discussion. So I don’t see (interest in Bigfoot) waning. If anything it keeps snowballing.”
Meldrum believes proof of Bigfoot’s existence to be inevitable, especially considering the new developments being made in Bigfoot research.
According to Meldrum, the emergence of eDNA, or environmental DNA, which is collected from a variety of environmental samples rather than an organism itself, could be the key to finding concrete DNA from sasquatches, which has thus far eluded Bigfoot hunters around the country.
Additionally, Meldrum said drone technology could increase the chances of a sasquatch being caught on camera.
“The bottom line, everyone has to keep in mind, of course though, is that these animals are extremely rare, extremely far ranging and elusive,” Meldrum said, “which makes it very difficult to locate, let alone to observe and learn about them.”
However, Bigfoot researchers and enthusiasts still hold out hope that one day they will have definitive, concrete proof that not even the harshest of skeptics can deny.
“(Bigfoot) has stood the test of time because they are real,” Barackman said. “They’re really here. People do see them. And much like any other animal, they’ve always been here.”
Meldrum said that though he hopes it will be the efforts of searchers and researchers that prove once and for all the existence of sasquatches, he believes it will be a much more serendipitous event.
“Some day, a hunter is going to shoot one,” Meldrum said, “or some day a semi is going to hit one, and the issue will be solved.”