Expedition: Bigfoot!

 

When I saw that a new Bigfoot museum had opened in the state of Georgia, I finally had a very good reason to visit a very good friend. She’s lived in Atlanta for years, but honestly the idea of spending any time in a ginormous, humid metropolis had not appealed to this Montana girl.  But anyway, she and her significant other are nothing if not good sports.  They graciously allowed me to invite myself to their home for a weekend prior to the Ohio Bigfoot Conference – and also allowed me to lasso them into a trip to Expedition: Bigfoot, The Sasquatch Museum, in Georgia’s Blue Ridge.

Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, we met with proprietor David Bakara, who gave us a quick overview of the exhibits before unleashing us on the museum. “If you’re a Bigfoot person, you’ve probably already seen a lot of this stuff,” Bakara told me. “This museum is more for the general public.”

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David and Malinda Bakara

“That’s perfect,” I said, gesturing to my friends. “I brought the General Public with me!”

David and his wife Malinda have designed the museum – housed in a former honky-tonk (if those walls could talk…) — to cultivate an old-timey “expedition” feel, a la the Tom Slick expeditions of the 1950s and 60s. The rustic stained-wood walls, handmade wood furniture, and props of old shipping crates, lanterns, backpacks, and canteens set the stage for the visitor’s own Bigfoot adventure.

The museum is small but well thought out. The Bakaras have incorporated interactive elements into many of the exhibits. One exhibit on Ron Morehead’s “Sierra Sounds” recordings allows the visitor to hear, via headphones, not only the alleged Bigfoot language but also Morehead’s commentary. We all enjoyed the video loop of eyewitness accounts, and I must say I was more than a little impressed that my General Public friends chose to sit and watch every one of these short films, as well as the “Wild Man of Kentucky” movie presentation in the museum’s theater.

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Exhibits.  Pardon the photo quality.  I couldn’t get the flash to work.

The museum includes a map of Bigfoot sightings in the Georgia/Florida area, a collection of footprint casts, a display of historical “wild man” accounts reproduced from various newspapers, and a comfortable reading area where one can study the museum’s Bigfoot library.  There is also a “gifting table” with snacks for visitors.  I did not partake, but my friends told me the cookies were delicious.

As a “Bigfoot person,” my favorite exhibit was the re-creation of a scene from the famed Ape Canyon incident of 1924. A group of prospectors staying in a remote cabin allegedly spent a terrifying night besieged by a group of unhappy Bigfoot. The Bakaras have created a life-sized replica of the cabin and the accompanying audio is a dramatic interpretation of the events – wonderfully old-time-radio-esque.

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Ape Canyon– eek!

Expedition: Bigfoot opened this past February, and so far, the Bakaras said they’ve gotten favorable responses to their museum. After living and doing Bigfoot field research in Florida, the couple moved to north Georgia several years ago and fell in love with the area. They see the museum as an opportunity to meld their Bigfoot passion with the Blue Ridge tourist trade, providing a unique, family-friendly attraction, while educating the public about the creatures lurking in the woods. “It was hard to throw caution to the wind and open this up,” Malinda said about the museum, “but now we get to do what we love.”

The museum is certainly a labor of love for the Bakaras. As of my visit, they were hustling to complete one more exhibit before the busy summer tourist season: the Boggy Creek room. (This also ensures that I have a reason to return.)

As for the General Public? We got in the car to head back to the city. “I want to see a Bigfoot right now,” my friend said. “It’d be interesting to look at maps of different sightings and see what sort of patterns they follow,” said the significant other. It was decided that we would watch Bigfoot documentaries when we got back to their house, and we did. So, good job, David and Malinda! I think you’ve inspired at least a couple of new Bigfoot enthusiasts.

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Nifty vintage photo

 

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