Though he’s a Sasquatch aficionado, Patrick Cooper is passing on Bremerton’s Bigfoot conference this weekend.
Too far-fetched, the Bremerton resident believes.
The second annual conference, held at the Baymont Inn & Suites starting tonight, is indeed intended to highlight an “alternative point of view,” about Bigfoot, conference host Matthew Johnson says. Cooper doesn’t buy it, and though he presented at the first annual event in 2015, he charges that the conference turned into a “side-show carnival.” Johnson calls believers like Cooper “old school,” who are unwilling to keep an open mind about different possibilities that surround the “Squatch.”
And therein lies the idealogical divide among some Bigfoot believers.
Cooper, who has been researching Bigfoot for the past 16 years, says he’s following evolutionary science. Searching for Sasquatch out along Hood Canal, he believes the creatures are simply descendants of a different evolutionary line.
Johnson, a clinical psychologist now living in Medford, Oregon, once held the same viewpoint. But an experience along a greenbelt near Puyallup in 2011 changed his mind. He and some friends say that they saw a Bigfoot and it “cloaked” as it passed them — they could see ferns still moving after the creature disappeared, and ultimately brushed past him.”
“No, we weren’t drinking, and no we weren’t drugging,” Johnson said.
The experience thrust him into a more paranormal mindset — that perhaps Bigfoot is a far more intelligent species whose DNA could even mix with something out of this world.
“They’re treating them like they’re dumb mountain apes,” he said of the old schoolers. “They’re just as smart out in the forest as we are in the cities.”
That was enough last year to convince Cooper to stay away this year.
“About half of the presenters were legitimate hardworking bigfooters but the slant of the conference last year was to set up to showcase supernatural hucksterism,” Cooper said.
Johnson says there’s plenty of “old school” conferences around the country and that his is meant to offer different viewpoints.
The schism will continue as both sides continue the search for the elusive creature.
If you go:
A panel of the nation’s top recognized Bigfoot researchers will speak at a three-day conference starting tonight. Tickets are $50-$95. For more information go to http://www.teamsquatchinusa.com/.