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Lair of the Beasts: The Boggy Depot Bigfoot
Lecturing on Sasquatch
By Nick Redfern
October 30, 2010
The Boggy Depot Bigfoot.
Just over a week ago, myself and good friend – and co-author with me on Monsters of Texas – Ken Gerhard headed north to Oklahoma, where we were booked to lecture at the first (of hopefully many) Boggy Depot Bigfoot Conference. The brainchild of a man named Mike Hall, the gig was designed to raise funds for two very worthwhile programs: the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network.
We arrived in the town of Atoka around 6.00 p.m., checked into our lodgings, and then made our way to the Boggy Depot State Park, where the audience was due to be treated to two cult-classic, horror/monster movies of the 1970s: The Legend of Boggy Creek and The Creature from Black Lake. As we pulled up in the park, with our vehicle’s speakers thumping out a fine dose of Rob Zombie, I could already see that the audience was beginning to build up, and the rain, which had been pummeling the area for hours, was starting to lessen.
And, a good, atmospheric night it was too. Deep in the woods, surrounded by dark shadows, and with a full Moon looming above, parents cooked, kids excitedly played, and some – no doubt – wondered if Bigfoot itself might put in an appearance. Then, it was time for everyone to take their seats in the outside-venue and the film-fest began in earnest.
Both movies took me firmly back to my childhood and brought back fond memories of my pre-teen years as an eager devourer of monstrous tales and horror-themed comic-books. And, for those who had not previously been exposed to these old ‘70s productions, a great time was had.
Somewhat appropriately, it was close to the witching-hour when Ken and I finally got back to the motel, prepared our lecture material for the next day, and grabbed a bit of sleep. As we set off the following morning, the sky darkened and, sure enough, the heavens opened up with a veritable deluge of rain that did not stop all day. Fortunately, as the whole event was undercover, it didn’t detract from people enjoying themselves and learning all about the big, hairy monster of the woods.
Things kicked off with Randy Harrington and Darren Lee, of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center, who gave a very interesting and notable presentation on the work of the MABRC, as well as their profound, personal experiences, which had left the pair in no doubt that there really is a form of unknown ape roaming the wilder parts of North America.
I was up next, discussing a phenomenon that rarely gets a mention: that of Bigfoot and hairy wild men of the woods in my home country of England. Granted, the number of reports that surface out of Britain is far less than those of the United States, but they are no less valuable. For the most part, my lecture focused upon the strange saga of the so-called Man-Monkey that first burst forth from the shadowy woods of a small, ancient village in central England in 1879, and which was the subject of my book, Man-Monkey: In Search of the British Bigfoot.
Then, it was time for Ken to give a detailed, and excellently-illustrated lecture on reports of Bigfoot in Texas – where we both live (me just outside Dallas, and Ken in San Antonio), I know from experience that many people assume that Bigfoot is purely a phenomenon of the huge Pacific Northwest forests. But, not so: the Lone Star State has many large areas of woodland and forest, and more than a few of these have their very own legends, tales and sightings of giant ape-like animals, as Ken carefully noted.
After Ken, a well-earned lunch was in order, as was the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. And then there was a fascinating lecture from a former U.S. Navy crypto-linguist, R. Scott Nelson, who spoke about the highly thought-provoking issue of whether or not the Bigfoot creatures have their very own form of language. Of course, many people seldom give much thought to such a controversial issue; however, Nelson has done some groundbreaking research in this particular area, and played some very weird audio-recordings said to contain Bigfoot vocalizations, and which held many an audience member spellbound.
Then, after an informative and interesting presentation from Olin Williams, a historian with the Choctaw Nation who spoke about the history of his people – many of who were there, and who performed a number of their ceremonial dances, artist Robert Swain took to the stage to promote his Laughsquatch cartoons that show to be in Bigfoot research, you have to have a sense of humor!
Also on hand to deliver a great talk was Cullen Hudson, the author of the book Strange State: Mysteries and Legends of Oklahoma, who demonstrated to the whole audience that we were all right in the heart of definitively weird territory.
For me, however, the most fascinating lecture of all was that of Daniel Falconer, who had traveled all the way from New Zealand to be at the gig. Falconer – a special-effects genius who worked on such hit movies as Avatar; King Kong; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Lord of the Rings – gave a superb presentation on the many and varied strange creatures of New Zealand, including, of course, his homeland’s very own hairy wild-man.
And, then, it was all over. The audience had a great time, money had been raised for two groups engaged in excellent work with children, and the organizer, Mike Hall, breathed a big sigh of relief that all had gone well. Indeed, it had, and I look forward to attending next year’s Boggy Depot Bigfoot Conference – and so should you!
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including his latest, Final Events.