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No Skeptics Here: Bigfoot Fans Gather to Swap Yarns, Catch Up on the Latest About Sasquatch

September 22, 2002|From Associated Press

JEANNETTE, Pa. — True believers in Bigfoot ignored a history of hoaxes and misidentifications and gathered Saturday to exchange stories, peruse books and view items on the creature, which is also known as Sasquatch.

About 120 people attended the fourth annual East Coast Bigfoot Conference and Expo in this town outside Pittsburgh. Sale items included plaster casts of footprints--some with five toes, some with three.

"There's just too much evidence collected, too many sightings, too many reports for the creature not to exist," said Eric Altman of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society.

Altman does not claim to have seen a Bigfoot. However, while investigating a report in the woods of Bradford County two years ago, he and another researcher heard some sort of creature.

"We couldn't see it, but we could hear it mumbling and growling--almost like speaking," said Altman, 32, who installs software for AT&T. He said whatever it was crossed the trail about 100 yards ahead of them, just out of sight.

Over the last three years, the society has investigated more than 50 Bigfoot reports in Pennsylvania. Although the Northwest is best identified with Bigfoot, Altman said Pennsylvania ranks fourth among states with more than 500 sightings dating to the 1800s.

Christine Vinkler, 50, said she would have thought anyone claiming to see a Bigfoot was crazy--until June 2000, when, she said, she saw one while driving to work. "I was a skeptic, very much so."

Others not at the expo said they simply haven't seen proof.

"There's a lot of evidence. The problem is it's not good evidence," said Benjamin Radford, managing editor of "Skeptical Inquirer," the magazine of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

"People have always believed in the fantastic," said Barbara Mikkelson, who runs the Urban Legends Reference Page on the Internet. "We want to believe in a world where miracles can happen."

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