Photo: Bigfoot Discovery Museum curator Michael Rugg stands behind the museum counter on Tuesday. The Felton museum will host the 4th annual Bigfoot Discovery Day on Saturday. Bigfoot Discovery Day is held in October each year to celebrate the famed Patterson/Gimlin film of a Bigfoot walking into the forest. (Larissa Mueller/Sentinel)
10/12/2010 -- FELTON — The memory of his encounter with the large, hairy man along the banks of the Eel River in Humboldt County lay dormant for years — but came back in a flash decades later, while he was reading a passage about a similar encounter.
Michael Rugg says he was just a toddler when he wandered off alone on a trail while his parents cooked breakfast at their campsite on the river that early summer morning in 1950.
He passed through some brush and emerged onto a sandbar — and that's when he encountered a bigfoot.
“I looked up into the gaze of a very large man completely covered in bushy dark hair, with nothing on but a rather poorly fitting, torn shirt,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I looked at the hairy man, and he looked at me, then my parents started screaming for me, ‘Mikey, Mikey, where are you?'”
When he returned to the campsite and told them about the encounter, they reassured him that what he'd seen was likely a homeless man.
He forgot about the incident until about 20 years later, when a passage in a book about bigfoot sightings prompted the flashback — and helped explain his self-described obsession with all things Sasquatch.
Photo: Bigfoot Discovery Museum curator Michael Rugg stands outside the museum with cryptozoological artifacts and donated bones in the museum's collection on Tuesday. The Felton museum will host the 4th annual Bigfoot Discovery Day on Saturday. Bigfoot Discovery Day is held in October each year to celebrate the famed Patterson/Gimlin film of a Bigfoot walking into the forest, though Rugg also says that Bigfoot sightings are most prevalent in October. (Larissa Mueller/Sentinel)
The Bigfoot Discovery Museum, which Rugg founded in 2004 following a career as a computer graphic artist and illustrator, will host its fourth annual Bigfoot Discovery Day on Saturday at both the museum and the Louden Nelson Community Center in Santa Cruz.
Activities will include a presentation of evidence — including sound recordings, a large, unidentified tooth and a video clip of an unidentified, bipedal figure — that has been accumulated over the years in communities including Felton, Zayante, Ben Lomond and near the Forest at Nisene Marks in Aptos.
Local eyewitnesses will talk about their encounters for the first time in a public forum, while other presentations will explain research methodologies.
Photo: On Tuesday, Bigfoot Discovery Museum curator Michael Rugg holds teeth found in nearby Scotts Valley. The Felton museum will host the 4th annual Bigfoot Discovery Day on Saturday October 16, 2010.
One of the eyewitnesses who may attend the event, Placerville resident Colette Alexander, said she saw a bigfoot near the Pocono trail head about a mile from downtown Santa Cruz along the San Lorenzo River in June 1999. She was eating a sandwich when she looked into the woods, “and this thing was mimicking me eating my sandwich ... I slowed down mid-bite, and it mimicked me doing that.”
She later studied primates at Cabrillo College, but when she tried to tell her professors about it, “I got shut down pretty hard. They don't condone that kind of stuff.”
In 2009, she finally reported the sighting to bigfootsightings.org. A full account can be read at http://bigfootsightings.org/bigfoot-research/bigfoot-sightings/page/2/
One of the experts expected to attend the event, Bart Cutino, is a longtime researcher with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization and Alliance of Independent Bigfoot Researchers. He'll talk about field research he's conducted using thermal imaging devices and recount a sighting near Mount Rainier in Washington state in 2008.
Rugg says it's time people stop discounting the experiences of those who've seen and heard things outside of the norm, and for those who have had those encounters “to stop repressing their experiences.”
“I allowed myself to go ahead and believe my own memory ... It's time for people to realize that there's a lot of stuff going on out there that current science cannot explain,” he said.
If You Go
Bigfoot Discovery Day
When: Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Barbecue lunch and fellowship at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum; 6-9 p.m.: presentations at the Louden Nelson Community Center
Where: Bigfoot Discovery Museum, 5497 Hwy. 9, Felton; Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz
Cost: Admission to the museum is free; lunch is $5-$6
Information: 335-4478 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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