Bigfooting for a Cause: the 2016 Hocking Hills Bigfoot Conference< < Back to
Hocking Hills is a big place. Between the winding rural highways and ever undulating hills that scrape against the horizon – it’s not hard to believe that something mysterious might be living amongst the forests and caves of Southeast Ohio.
According to this past weekend’s attendees to the sold out Hocking Hills Bigfoot Conference, there certainly is.
Although the event focused on Bigfoot education and the general importance of a congregation of like-minded individuals over a subject for many have been ridiculed for – this particular Bigfoot event was unique because of its tie to its venue, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio’s Camp Oty’Okwa.
“We were looking for a way to connect the youth of today to not only the Bigfoot phenomenon, but more importantly the great outdoors and what it has to offer to the kids of today,” said Bea Mills, coordinator of the conference, who said that she was inspired to look into the camp as the venue after attending the Hocking Hills Certified Naturalist State Conference in 2015. “Visiting camp while ‘in-session’ really cemented the hard work and heart the camp’s Big Brother Big Sister mission. We feel every kid deserves to enjoy and play in the outdoors in a supportive, safe and inspiring environment.”
For Bigfooters like Marc A. DeWerth, the president of the Ohio Bigfoot Organization, the non-profit aspect of the weekend was just icing on top of a cake that he’s already very familiar with.
“Obviously I’m here because it’s a Bigfoot event and it’s for a great cause,” said DeWerth, who organizes the immensely popular and well-regarded Ohio Bigfoot Conference, which takes place every spring at Salt Fork State Park. “We decided that this camp in particular would be a great place to have this event because it’s also in the heart of Southeast Ohio, which is known for Sasquatch activity. We wanted to give back while promoting Bigfoot and Sasquatch in Ohio at the same time.”
DeWerth said that he feels that events that bring together people who have had Bigfoot experiences are crucial for more reasons than one.
“Public awareness is key – people need to know that there might be something like this lurking Ohio’s forests,” aid DeWerth. “If you can have events that attract the everyday Joe, a lot of times what you find out is that these people have had experiences but they didn’t know who to talk to — or they or they were afraid of ridicule. When you come to an event like this, it’s a safe haven where you can tell your story and you can open up.”
DeWerth, like many others who have reported sightings of Bigfoot, said that his life was “forever changed” by the sighting – which took place for him, in particular, in 1997.
“These things are not harming people, they’re the watchers of the woods, they keep an eye on things,” he said. “If you’re fortunate enough to see one, consider it like winning the lottery.”
“Events like these present an opportunity for people to realize that they are not alone. There is a taboo around seeing something that the culture at large says is not real,” said Barackman. “The people who live alongside these creatures think that they can’t say anything because everyone will think they’re on drugs, or drinking too much, or hallucinating, or a liar. Events like these help mainstream the subject so in the future, if someone does see one, they might realize ‘I saw Bigfoot,’ instead of thinking ‘I saw something that is not real’ or ‘I saw the devil,’ or any of the weird things that people might offer up as an explanation to their own psyche.”
Barackman emphasized that he no longer believes that the Bigfoot phenomenon is a question of whether or not Sasquatch is walking through the Ohio wilderness as you sit down to read this article.
“For me, personally, I’m not trying to prove that Bigfoots are real – they’re real, I’m confident of that. The evidence says so,” said Barackman. “But I think that their discovery will be the worst thing to ever happen to them. Because human beings have the Midas touch, but everything we touch turns into crap, not gold – and right now they don’t need protection; they’re doing just fine without us. But the moment they’re discovered, they’ll need protection from us, their discoverers.”
“For me, personally, I’m not trying to prove that Bigfoots are real – they’re real, I’m confident of that. The evidence says so,” – Cliff Barackman of Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot”
Barackman expressed that the Hocking Hills Bigfoot Conference is one of many events that allow for people to bond over their genuine affection for the creature known as Bigfoot, something that he believes is of utmost importance.
“I don’t care how people think Bigfoots are – I don’t care how people love Bigfoots, I just want them to love Bigfoots, because at the moment of their discovery, Bigfoots will need protection, so I want an army of weirdos already in place who are going to advocate for their protection and the protection of their habitat,” said Barackman. “Right now there are tens of thousands of people out there who love Bigfoots for whatever they think they are: they love the animal Bigfoot; they love the paranormal-ghost-UFO-shape-shifting Bigfoot; they love the Harry and the Hendersons Bigfoot; they love the beef jerky Bigfoot. And when everybody knows that Bigfoots are real, that’s when it will be important for our Bigfoot army to mobilize to protect Bigfoots and give back to them after all the pleasure that they have given to us.”