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Lair of the Beasts: The Weird Weekend
Monsters Among Us!
By Nick Redfern
August 01, 2009
The Weird Weekend
A couple of weeks ago I was speaking at a conference that encompassed a whole range of unexplained phenomena, including: Bigfoot, lake-monsters such as Nessie and Ogopogo, werewolves, UFO sightings, the infamous Roswell UFO crash, ghosts, poltergeist phenomena, and much more.
At the end of my lecture, one of the attendees came up to me and said (I'm paraphrasing here, but the following is pretty close): "I have really enjoyed the conference, and I was really surprised how normal the speakers were."
Well, rather than being offended, I had to laugh out loud. I have found on more than a few occasions while speaking at gigs across the United States that first-time attendees at conferences often assume that those of us who pursue monsters, mysterious beasts and a whole range of other mysteries are socially-challenged and a little bit off-center, or - to use the scientific term - certifiably nuts.
A lot of people, I know from experience, think that what I do - chasing and writing about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Chupacabra - is weird in the extreme. And they imagine that I am, too.
But, the realty is a bit different. Sometimes, when people come to visit me and my wife for a weekend, they assume I live in some sinister, Gothic abode that is forever cloaked in darkness. They actually seem quite surprised to find us hanging out watching NCIS or American Idol with the lights on!
Well, it's this: conferences can be great places to learn more about the subject of cryptozoology and monster-hunting; but they can also be the perfect locations to realize that the people in the subject are really no different than anyone else.
Generally speaking, we're not obsessed outcasts who think of nothing but catching Bigfoot, slaying the Loch Ness Monster, or photographing the Yeti. We have lives that - most of the time - are just like anyone else's. And, there's a refreshing lack of egos (mostly!) within cryptozoology, too.
Yeah, I admit: you do get the occasional pompous person who thinks he's God, but the odd fruitcake aside, it's all pretty much good.
And if you want to see up close and personal what goes on (both openly and behind-the-scenes) at a conference on cryptozoology, you may want to check out next month's Weird Weekend gig.
The brainchild of my good friend, Jon Downes, the Weird Weekend is a yearly event that is held in the centuries-old English village of Woolsery, Devonshire (the same county where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was set), and which covers a whole range of monster-driven subjects.
I've been fortunate to speak at the 2000, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Weird Weekend events, and will be doing so next month at this year's gig, too.
The Weird Weekend is very much a family-based, communal affair, with lectures and attractions that will appeal to both adults and kids. And, if you live in Britain, or live overseas but have the time to get over, I definitely recommend the event. You won't be disappointed at all.
So, with that said, what can you expect to learn about at this year's Weird Weekend?
Well, there's me speaking about a Top Secret project that Soviet premier Josef Stalin had to try and cross-breed humans and gorillas.
English researcher Andy Roberts will be talking about the "Big Grey Man of Ben Macdhui," a Bigfoot-style entity reported from the mountains of Scotland; and Oll Lewis will be lecturing on the monstrous Kraken.
"Tim the Yowie Man" will be speaking about the Australian equivalent of Sasquatch; Paul Vella will be telling the audience all about the Minnesota Iceman (Google it - it's a strange and convoluted story); and author Neil Arnold will reveal much about some of the truly strange beasts that lurk among us.
And: there's also a lecture from Rat Scabies, drummer with the legendary British punk-rock band, The Damned, who is speaking about the Holy Grail and the Da Vinci Code.
Hey: it doesn't get much better than that!
So, if all that has caught your attention, and you want to see what a conference on monster-hunting is really like, check it out at cfz.org.uk
Disappointed, you will not be!
Indeed, as it's a weekend-long event that begins with a cocktail-party on Thursday August 13 and continues until Sunday August 16, it's definitely good value for money, and a gig that you'll be able to take in at a relaxed pace.
With book-sellers offering rare and hard-to-find old books, a cool line-up of speakers, and a fine location that sells excellent British beer, what more could you ask for?
And if you do decide to attend, don't be a stranger: come and say hi!
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on unsolved mysteries, including There's something in the Woods; Memoirs of a Monster Hunter; Three Men Seeking Monsters; and the forthcoming Science Fiction Secrets.