Hundreds of Bigfoot enthusiasts and fans attended Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot Festival on Saturday. Some attendees even dressed up.
By Natalya Estrada from the Times Standard
The small town of Willow Creek and its big legend were out and about on Saturday, catering to none other than their favorite furry mascot: Bigfoot.
With dozens of venders and nearly 200 attendees, the small park area behind Camp Kimtu was invaded by t-shirts, buttons, books and foot casts for Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot Festival.
Among the Bigfoot lore were plenty of Bigfoot believers, like Craig Woolheater who traveled with his wife from Dallas, Texas, to arrive just in time for the festival.
“We just got here at 5:30 a.m. and checked into the Bigfoot Motel,” Woolheater said. “So far I like it here. There’s some great vibes and I’m a fan of the show.”
Woolheater was selling Bigfoot lunch boxes, patches and key chains and said Animal Planet’s show “Finding Bigfoot” featured a reenactment of his experience with Bigfoot in one of its episodes.
Several of the show’s producers were at the festival to sign autographs and greet fans, including James “Bobo” Fay and Ryan “RPG” Golembeske, who travelled to Humboldt County to host the 50th anniversary of the Roger Patterson-Bob Gimlin film that reportedly recorded Bigfoot walking near Bluff Creek.
“That film’s what got me into Bigfoot,” Fay said, later adding that he was 5 years old when he first saw the footage. “It was a lot of people’s first exposure to Bigfoot. It was an iconic film for a lot of people.”
Fay said his first encounter was on May 21, 2001 near the Bald Hills in Klamath, where he was logging with a few local tribal members.
“I’m sitting on a beach chair, holding still. I’ve never been afraid of the woods before, I was never worried,” Fay said. “All of sudden I hear this rustling behind me and this deepest growl maybe 6 feet behind me at the treeline.
“That intensity hit me and I was just totally discombobulated,” he continued. “My eyes watered and I couldn’t see straight. I just knew to get away from that sound. There was no doubt in my mind. Anyone who was there would have known what was going on.”
Festival attendees like Mike Rinnan, of Medford, Oregon, were also excited to meet Bob Gimlin, one of the filmmakers behind the Patterson-Gimlin film. Rinnan said he attended a speech at Medford High School 50 years ago, when he was about 7 years old.
“I saw the Patterson-Gimlin film when I was little and it got me really fascinated with Bigfoot,” Rinnan said. “I saved a book I got from the event and I’m hoping Bob [Gimlin] will sign it.”
The now 85-year-old Gimlin causally walked around the festival greeting guests and posing for photos with fans. He said being back in Willow Creek made him appreciative of the community and natural wonders of the area.
Gimlin was also presented by the Willow Creek Chamber of Commerce with a street named after him on Friday called Gimlin Way.
“It’s very special,” Gimlin said. “I never expected it and was so amazed for it to even happen. It’s really good to be back here [in Willow Creek] and to see Bobo and the rest of the crew. You know its kind of like coming home to see the family.”
He also said he was glad generations of crytozoology fans were able to believe in Bigfoot since the film’s debut in 1967.
“There are so many people that I talk to that don’t believe that these mountain folks exist and they do exist and they’re not a person out there that you need to fear. They’re a person you need to respect very highly,” he said. “I believe that [Bigfoot’s] here to be friends with us.”
Source: Times Standard