Chautauqua, NY hosts the annual Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo, and this year marked their fourth event. Steve Kulls, also known as the "Squatch Detective", as well as cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard, were two of the notable speakers at the Expo.
At the fourth annual Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo, organizer Peter Wiemer knows the creature may not be the first topic that comes to mind in the rural county, best known for the Chautauqua Institution, a summer retreat devoted to scholarly and artistic pursuits.
"You say Bigfoot in a room full of people and watch everyone stop and look to see who's talking," he said with a laugh.
And while he may have started the event as a way to draw people to the tourist-dependent region and his family's rental cottages, he said he has since met dozens of people who are certain they've seen one of the ape-like creatures in the area.
Wiemer is now enough of a devotee that he's tried to get New York state to put Sasquatch on its list of endangered species, alongside the mud turtle, the golden eagle and the cougar.
The Department of Environmental Conservation isn't convinced. Its 2012 response in part: "This mythical animal does not exist in nature or otherwise. ... No program or action in relation to mythical animals is warranted."
Don't tell that to Julia Karanasky, who was afraid she had a spy when she became aware of a large figure clearing his throat outside her bedroom window on her second night in her Niagara Falls home in 2009. Then she heard the stories of regular Bigfoot sightings on the nearby Tuscarora Indian Reservation.
"I keep telling people, 'I think he came to my house that night,'" said Karanasky, who sat in the front row for the expo's lectures.
Speakers included Steve Kulls, an Adirondacks-based Sasquatch detective who debunks Bigfoot hoaxes while seeking out credible reports, and Ken Gerhard, a cryptozoologist in pursuit of evidence of mystery creatures including the Loch Ness Monster, the chupacabra and werewolves.
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