Big Sky Bigfoot Conference ’16: A quick and dirty roundup

Well now, this post is a long time coming.

It’s sort of hard to write about an event you organized, mostly because you don’t experience that event in the same way other attendees do.  As organizer, I didn’t get the luxury of sitting down and listening to each presentation; I was worried about the temperature of the room, the arrangement of the chairs, the volume on the sound system, the dang laptop that I spaced off and left at my house instead of bringing to the venue, going off-schedule (so sorry, but sometimes it happens), and the people coming and going (please don’t let the doors slam, thank you!), and whether the vendors were doing well, and getting Bob Gimlin some chicken soup, and about selling our official t-shirts.  And what? We’re out of coffee AGAIN?

It’s exhausting.

But you know, despite being frazzled to the nth degree from not only all of this, but also from some really, really stressful and poorly timed family situations — I had an absolute blast.  Our lineup of speakers was awesome, and they shared excellent information with our many attendees.  So here’s my quick-and-dirty synopsis for anyone who may be interested:

The Big Sky Bigfoot Conference was held Fri & Sat, Oct. 21-22 at the beautiful Bitterroot River Inn & Conference Center in Hamilton, Montana.  The weather was quite pleasant, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s each day.  The venue looks out over the Bitterroot mountains, with the Bitterroot River a stone’s throw away.


l-r, Caitlin Ertz, Thomas Ertz & Nell Ertz; the author; John Mionczynski; Kathy Strain; Bob Gimlin; Jeff Meldrum; Tom Yamarone; Russell Acord.  Not pictured: Misty Allabaugh and Tom Brodhead


We kicked off on Friday evening with a town-hall-style meeting led by Columbia Falls, Montana bigfoot researcher Misty Allabaugh.  This was open to the public and all attendees were invited to share their bigfoot experiences.  The venue was absolutely packed for this, and it was a wonderful meeting for both the experiencers and for those who came out of general interest.

Saturday morning we started off with a presentation by Montana BFRO researchers Tom Brodhead & Thomas Ertz.  They, along with Thomas’ wife Caitlin and their adorable daughter Nell, had set up a table with detailed area maps for folks to mark their sightings.  They received several hopeful reports to follow up.

Bigfoot novelist, researcher, and Bitterroot area native Russell Acord spoke next, giving a presentation on the likelihood of a sasquatch-sized creature remaining hidden in the wilds of North America.  Russ also did a bigfooting q & a with the audience.

Anthropologist Kathy Strain, author of Giants, Cannibals and Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture, next gave her presentation on Native American interpretations of sasquatch.  She showed one particular film of a traditional dance that had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck — very cool stuff.

Next up, Tom Yamarone, Bob Gimlin, and Jeff Meldrum shared some recollections during a tribute for recently passed bigfoot pioneer John Green.  Green’s groundbreaking research, compiled into several books, most notably the classic Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, has had a tremendous impact on subsequent generations of bigfooters.  Yamarone, a bigfoot songwriter, also shared the debut of a new verse in his song about Green, in part: “When the day finally comes and his vision is seen/ Sasquatch will look back and say, ‘Thank you, John Green.'”

After the lunch break, wildlife biologist John Mionczynski shared his insights on how a sasquatch might survive in our area as well as his own history researching the subject since the 1970s.

Tom Yamarone next entertained us with more songs, including “The Ballad of Albert O” and “Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day).”  Yamarone has a passion for the history of bigfooting and he led smoothly into the penultimate (and possibly most highly anticipated) speaker of the day: Bob Gimlin himself.

The 49th anniversary of the Patterson-Gimlin film had passed just two days earlier — the day Tom and Bob, oddly enough, drove into Montana from Bob’s home in Yakima, WA.  Gimlin told the crowd, after asking us not to throw any rotten tomatoes, about his experience the day the film evidence was captured: how he covered Roger Patterson with his rifle after Patterson’s horse freaked out; how Patterson scrambled after the creature trying to get something on camera; how he (Gimlin) wanted to pursue the creature even after Patterson ran out of film, but did not because they needed to go find the missing horse; how he covered the creature’s tracks with chunks of cottonwood bark to protect them from that evening’s rainstorm.  It is a fascinating account, coming from the only man in the world who was there when the historic footage was filmed.

After Gimlin was finished, we presented him with a card and a cake, because the previous Tuesday had been his 85th birthday.  I hope the cake was tasty; I was good and didn’t even try to sneak any.

Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum spoke as the final presenter of the day.  Meldrum, author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, is one of the few credentialed academics to give the sasquatch conundrum serious scientific review.  Meldrum encouraged the crowd to act as citizen-scientists, collecting evidence in a measured way and not jumping to conclusions.  He asked us to consider, when doing bigfoot research, what we as individuals have to bring to the table.  It’s the people, he says, who are likely ultimately to solve the bigfoot puzzle.  It was gratifying to see the conference end on such a thought-provoking note.

So there you have it, the official Big Sky Bigfoot Conference overview.  If you attended, I hope  you learned something, had a great time, and maybe made some new friends.  If you presented — you are fantastic and I can not thank you enough for all the hard work you put into your presentations.  Super-special shout-outs to Bridget and the Bitterroot River Inn  crew for all your assistance; and to the ever-fabulous Becky Cook, without whom none of this may have been possible.  Many, many thanks to EVERYONE who supported BSBC ’16.  I hope to see you all again next year. 😉

Big Sky Bigfoot 2016 Sponsors:

Lady Green Designs

Bitterroot Brew Pub

Paranormal Montana

Sasquatch Syndicate

Al’s Cycle

Bitterroot River Inn & Conference Center

Special thanks to:


Black Cat Bake Shop

Door prizes generously provided by:

Al’s Cycle

Bozeman Paranormal


Expedition: Bigfoot, The Sasquatch Museum

Daniel Perez

Green Ribbon Books

Small Town Monsters

Sasquatch Coffee

Lawdog’s Saloon

Wayne Barnes


Yeah baby: Big Sky Bigfoot ’16

Check out the lineup for Big Sky Bigfoot ’16 — how did we manage to pull off this awesomeness?

I don’t know, but, in all seriousness, this is going to be a GREAT weekend and you should be making your plans to attend.  Right now.  Just sayin’.