Bigfoot Encounters

The World UFO and Paranormal Expo
...a Review by Thom Powell

Denver, Colorado, 11/7/04

I was a little hesitant when I was invited to speak at the first annual World UFO and Paranormal Expo (WUPE) in Denver. To speak at such a gathering might relegate me to the lunatic fringe of bigfoot quasi-researchers. But when I saw Stan Gordon was the keynote speaker, I eagerly accepted. Here’s a guy who has been researching bigfoot for years and has published a few excellent articles on the subject, my favorite being his article in Craig Heinselman’s outstanding Hominology 2 publication. After reading his stuff, I really wanted to meet Stan and ask him a few things. I decided I would approach the rest of the conference with an open mind.

To most bigfooters, “paranormal” is a put-down. One definition of paranormal is “outside the realm of established sciences.” Not such a put-down, really. In the bigfoot biz, most of us surmise that bigfoot is simply an undocumented species of wood ape; a flesh and blood species to be sure, like us. “Paranormal” is a dirty word that conjures hackneyed images of shape shifting, interdimensional beings, and oddball quasi-researchers. Bigfooters also know too well that, despite their best efforts, the mainstream public still sees the whole of the bigfootery as decidedly paranormal at best, and completely imaginary at worst. Maybe someday the creatures will come in from the paranormal cold, but as of now, most of the world sees the bigfoot topic in the same dim light as crop circles and space aliens.

Bigfoot has always gotten a bum rap by people who’ve never bothered to educate themselves about the particulars, so I promised myself I wouldn’t make the same mistake when regarding those who take ET’s and crop circles seriously. I wouldn’t smirk at the other topics on the program. Instead, I would listen to as much as I could and see if anyone was offering some kind of intellectual plaster that I could use to patch the gaping holes that still riddle my own understanding of the bigfoot phenomenon.

I was surprised at how well organized everything seemed to be. The hotel was large and the surrounding were elegant. Most Bigfoot gatherings by comparison, are in cramped restaurants, campgrounds, or Quonset huts. This conference was in a Sheraton conference center/hotel. As a field researcher from Oregon, I wore my uniform: Levis and a flannel shirt. But the other speakers were downright distinguished. Very dapper bunch. They were friendly, intelligent and articulate. They were educated and even scholarly. I attended as many sessions as I could but some of the subjects I was most curious about conflicted with my own presentations. Fortunately, I was able to visit with many of the speakers during social gatherings, meals, and impromptu chats in the display area. Just about everyone seemed to be hawking a book, myself included, and they also seemed very interested in each other’s books, so I was often able to swap books with other authors. The conference was a single day but it was a very full day, with two presentations going at any given time, a merchant and display area, and breakout workshops being conducted by some of the speakers during their off-times. There were presentations on UFOs, abductees, channeling, crop circles, alternate paradigms, other anomalies, and of course, bigfoot. Bigfoot seemed to be a sideshow to the interest in ET’s and UFOs: subjects of much greater interest for Coloradoans than Bigfoot because UFO sightings positively abound in certain parts of Colorado. Although the bigfoot talks were not as well attended, the Bigfoot talks were some of the most interesting I’ve ever attended. The bigfoot speakers were Joe Fex (Colorado), Stan Gordon (Pennsylvania), Sherry Malin (Tennessee) and myself (Oregon).

Stan Gordon, the keynote speaker, reported on his four decades of investigating both the UFO and the bigfoot phenomena and he had many well-documented events that featured aspects of both. Stan is a serious and sober investigator who impartially presented material that is most troubling for your average bigfoot researchers, but he did so without taking sides and stepping on toes. Anyone who is unfamiliar with Stan Gordon’s work has missed some very unusual and well-documented bigfoot encounters. Stan offered no speculations as to how and why the bigfoot and UFO anomalies sometimes collide. I did not get to see all of Joe Fex’s talk but he addressed this very question in detail, and the time I spent chatting with him was very illuminating. I saw half of Sherry’s talk in which she summarized her experiences with the Janice Coy. My presentation covered my many efforts to deploy camera systems, patterns that have emerged, and speculations as to what it means. I also presented some of my most controversial evidence supporting the possibility of telepathy in the bigfoot, and I discussed ideas for intra-species communication with bigfoot. I expected guffaws and ridicule. Instead I saw sincere interest and respect. I met several people who had experiences of their own that supported some of my radical suggestions. Both Joe and Stan had cases to share that matched some of my most perplexing accounts. I still don’t know quite what to make of it all, but the conference reaffirmed my view that we have to wade through at least some of the other paranormal matters if we are going to develop new approaches and better understanding of the bigfoot phenomenon. Associating bigfoot with the paranormal can only hurt funding and overall credibility, at least in the near term, but a recurring theme of the expo was that paranormal is a very real scientific frontier that is just now coming known, and one that is rife with possibilities for valid scientific research.

Of all the subjects I sampled on Denver’s Paranormal Sunday, crop circles was perhaps the most verifiable and therefore irrefutable. I found I held the same false assumptions about crop circles that the scoff-tics use to dismiss bigfoot. For example, I confidently misunderstood the crop circle phenomena to be the handiwork of Dan and Dave, two hopped up tavern-hounds with a garden roller, string, and sketches on a cocktail napkin. How ignorant I was. “Secrets in the Fields” by Freddy Silva is THE authoritative book on the crop circle phenomenon. All who listened to his presentation seemed impressed by his articulation of the numerous unexplainable aspects of crop circles. Fred also described events that matched disinformation and sabotage efforts that bigfoot researchers have sometimes encountered. On pages 34-40, Freddy cites numerous events perpetrated against crop circle researchers that are chillingly similar to many things I have personally witnessed in the bigfoot realm. Clearly, the disinformation spooks work from the same manual when they want to keep a subject from being taken seriously. And I was as much a sucker to disinformation about crop circles as are most folks when it comes to bigfoot. I realized this only after I allowed a knowledgeable researcher, Freddy Silva, to dispatch my ignorance with fact and logic. I strongly recommend Freddy’s book “Secrets in the Field.” He more or less proves that crop circles are extraterrestrial in origin.

At the conference, I looked for the paranormal equivalent of the acrimony that is sometimes displayed between opposing camps of bigfoot researchers. I saw civility and respect among the speakers and attendees alike. At bigfoot conferences, bigfoot is the only thing anyone is interested in talking about. At risk blasphemy, I must confess that, for me, too much talk about only Bigfoot matters gets tiresome. Well this conference never got tiresome. I was humbled by how conversant were the attendees and speakers alike about matters of which I knew nothing. My favorite pastime at the Denver WUPE conference was just sitting and listening to conversations at the dinner or breakfast table among the presenters. They all seemed to know each other and they had so much to say that it was hard to get up and leave. My only regret about the conference was that I had to miss so many interesting presentations while I did my talking.
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© Thom Powell, 2004

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