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Lair of the Beasts: The Weird Weekend
A Conference of Monsters
By Nick Redfern
August 13, 2011
A Monstrous Conference
For three days and nights of each and every year, the tiny North Devon, England village of Woolsery becomes just about the weirdest locale in the entire land. That’s right: the largest gathering of scholars of esoteric natural history in the English-speaking world is set to take place in the rural English countryside next weekend. The Center for Fortean Zoology’s annual conference, the Weird Weekend, will see speakers from all over the country gathering in ancient Woolsery to discuss their work and discoveries of a very mysterious nature before a packed audience.
The Weird Weekend - covering August 19-21 and now in its 12th year - is just about the largest convention of its kind. This year’s speakers include one of the world’s leading geneticists: Professor Bryan Sykes. Professor Sykes will be speaking on the Yeti, as well as samples of hair he has tested. Continuing on a similar theme, British cryptozoologist Richard Freeman will be talking about the Center for Fortean Zoology’s latest expedition that took them into the Garo Hills of northern India, hot on the heels of the legendary Abominable Snowman.
Last year at the convention, scientists announced that hairs found in local Devon woodland were those of nothing less than a leopard – a creature hardly indigenous to the United Kingdom! These extraordinary and ground-breaking findings were later confirmed by DNA analysis, no less. And a true world exclusive this year comes from Dr. Darren Naish from Portsmouth University, and Max Blake from Bristol University, who will produce conclusive proof that more than 100 years ago there were indeed large and mysterious cats prowling around the Devonshire countryside.
Other speakers at this year’s Weird Weekend include Fortean researcher Matt Salusbury who has been on the track of pigmy elephants in India, entomologist Nick Wadham on giant-sized spiders, cryptozoologist Adam Davies on the Orang-Pendek (the legendary and mysterious ape of Sumatra), and Glen Vaudrey on the water-horse, a sea serpent that hails from ancient Scottish legend, history and folklore.
As well as monstrous creatures, an abundance of other esoteric subjects are set to be covered at this year’s Weird Weekend. Retired English police officer John Hanson, for example, will be describing UFO cases reaching back to the 1940s. Other subjects include Ronan Coghlan on the labors of Hercules, and Henry Hartley on mysterious aspects of the modern Mayans. And as well as all that, there will be a series of talks on a wide variety of other paranormal, supernatural and zoological topics, book-stalls, workshops and numerous additional events.
The Weird Weekend raises funds for village charities dealing with children and for the Center for Fortean Zoology, the only full time organization in the world dedicated to the investigation of mystery animals.
The Weird Weekend takes place from August 19 to 21 at Woolsery, Devonshire, England. For further details visit: http://www.weirdweekend.org/. Or telephone: 01237 431413.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including the recently published title, The Real Men in Black.