2013 Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo ~ And some thoughts.
The 2013 Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo was success again this year !
This year the organizer of the event, Peter Wiemer, added 2 days of activities designed to specifically reach out to witnesses and those that are interested in what we do within the general public. Friday and Saturday the doors of the Local YMCA camp (which was beautiful log cabin style building) were opened up and the people poured in.
I enjoy the children and their questions more than anything.
They have such a need for information, and their minds are open to anything, and work like a sponge. They are excited and want to hear all about the animal we call Bigfoot. The kids (no disrespect to the adults out there) are why I enjoy conferences. They will ask you anything and say whatever is on their mind. These kids are the future of this community.
Which brings me to my next point.
Bob Gimlin. For a man in his 80's - he has a lot of energy. Bob was available to attendees of all the events, which spanned 3 days. It was great watching him talk to the adults and kids about his experience that day at Bluff Creek. When Bob wasn't speaking he was talking to anyone and everyone that wanted to ask him questions or to just get to know the man. I was amazed at how friendly and available he was. No question was off limits, he simply answered what he could.
Personally, I was honored to share a stage with Bob. I was also the most junior researcher who spoke at this conference. Let's be honest, I was honored - but scared to death. How do you follow a man like Bob Gimlin? Of course Bob will tell you, "I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else." While he is right, he is one of the last of what I think is the greatest era of Bigfoot Researchers, John Green, Bob Titmus, Peter Byrne, Grover Krantz, Rene Dahinden, Bob Gimlin and Roger Patterson. God willing, the names that are still with us, will continue to be with us for a very long time.
But, let's face it, Bob Gimlin, John Green, and Peter Byrne won't be around forever - and if you have never had a chance to meet or talk to these men - put it at the top of your list of things to do.
Why do I think it's important?
Every person has a story to tell. I could sit here for days and type out my thoughts and impressions of Bob Gimlin. But to ask him the questions yourself and hear his responses, see the look on his face and observe his body language is a whole other thing. Watching him interact with others and answering questions will tell you a lot about Bob Gimlin. A friend of mine said recently, "Bob is the salt of the earth." I can't think of a better way to describe him.
Did I ask him some tough questions? Yes, as a matter of fact I did. His direct answers and his immediate responses without the slightest hint of anger or attitude - only increased my level of respect for this man.
I personally enjoy seeking answers myself. I could simply read various stories on the internet, but I prefer to meet these people myself, hear their stories and make up my own mind. There are those out there who would say, "Meeting Bob Gimlin is not that special." I would say - "Oh really?" Many researchers today say their interest began with the first time they saw the Patterson Gimlin film. I would say that encompasses half the current community. So, it's not important to meet one of the only 2 people who watched Patty walk across that sandbar at Bluff Creek? Why wouldn't anyone want to talk to the person they say produced the information that sparked their interest? Why wouldn't you want to talk to him yourself? If for no other reason than to get your own questions answered and not have to rely on the opinions of others?
Conferences are good way to meet the people in the community, share ideas, and yes - socialize. In this community we spend so much time being critical of others, maybe once or twice a year it's okay to not be so critical and just meet people, discuss what we do, and share information. That isn't a bad thing. I often wonder what this community could be like if we all spent more time, listening and asking questions, rather than being critical right out of the gate. How much further along would we be in this search if we spent more time discussing and less time calling each other names?
In a perfect world I guess.
Conferences also provide us the opportunity to meet people like Bob Gimlin, John Green, Dr. Meldrum, Kathy Strain and many, many others and get to know them as people. I don't know about you, but I can't afford to fly around the country to meet these people myself. I am not a "trust fund baby". So, I look forward to conferences so I can meet those who have been at this longer and those that are new.
I even hope I met a future researcher. Maybe in that sea of faces, there is a kid who left the conference after listening to Bob Gimlin, Billy Willard, Larry Battson, Tom Yamarone, Steve Kulls, or myself and said;
"When I grow up, I am going to look for Bigfoot too."
I don't think that is a bad thing either.
Opinions will vary of course.