Copyright The Associated
9/21/02 8:27 PM
Pa. (AP) -- Big believers in Bigfoot ignored a history of hoaxes and misidentifications
and gathered Saturday to exchange stories and peruse books and items on
About 120 people attended the fourth annual East Coast Bigfoot Conference
and Expo in this town outside Pittsburgh. Sale items included plaster
casts of footprints -- some with five toes, some with three.
"There's just too much evidence collected, too many sightings, too
many reports for the creature not to exist," said Eric Altman, director
of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society. Altman does not claim to have actually
seen a Bigfoot. However, while investigating a report in the woods of
Bradford County two years ago, he and another researcher heard some sort
"We couldn't see it, but we could hear it mumbling and growling --
almost like speaking," said Altman, 32, who installs software for
AT&T. He said it crossed the trail about 100 yards ahead of them,
just out of sight.
Over the past three years, the society has investigated more than 50 Bigfoot
reports in Pennsylvania. Though the Northwest is best identified with
Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, Altman said Pennsylvania ranks fourth among states
with more than 500 sightings dating to the 1800s.
Christine Vinkler, 50, said she would have thought anyone claiming to
see a Bigfoot was crazy, too -- until June 2000, when she said she saw
one while driving to work. "I was a skeptic, very much so," she said.
Others not at the expo said they simply haven't seen any proof. "There's
a lot of evidence. The problem is it's not good evidence," said Benjamin
Radford, managing editor of "Skeptical Inquirer," the
magazine of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of
"People have always believed in the fantastic," said Barbara
Mikkelson, who runs the Urban Legends Reference Page on the Internet.
"We want to believe in a world where miracles can happen."
Dave Grim, 32, a high school history teacher, said he came to the expo
out of curiosity. "I'm open and would like to experience something
I can't explain," he said.
Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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