Just over a year ago, a devastating tornado ripped through the small town of Vilonia, Arkansas and forced the cancellation of a planned Bigfoot Conference. The organizers of the conference decided to try again, and the outcome was better than they had imagined. More than 200 people came to the meeting, which was the first of its kind in the state. Many of the attendees were experienced "Squatchers," while others (like me) were newbies who just wanted to see what happens at these kinds of meetings.
"I did not know what to expect for the attendance of something new in uncharted waters," said Robert Swain, the director of APES (Arkansas Primate Evidence Society - a major sponsor of the conference.)
"I told our APES group that I was going to be happy if we had fifty to seventy-five people attend. I was amazed that two hundred and thirty people showed up!"
Keynote speakers gave presentations on the folklore and legend of the Bigfoot, as well as some of their own personal experiences and sightings. Bigfoot memorabilia, books and surveillance equipment were all for sale at the meeting, including conference t-shirts that had been printed for the year before and had to be rescued from the field after the tornado ripped through town.
Are there any plans for a future conference? Swain says APES is "already evaluating what we can do next year to make it better. YES there will be another conference next year!"
Bigfoot Vilonia sketch. Artist unknown.