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In Search of Sasquatch at the Bigfoot Bonanza

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New Jersey has its devil. Scotland has Nessie the plesiosaur. The Southwest has its mangy, old chupacabra sucking on goat blood. But we here in Northern California have Bigfoot, the big, hairy granddaddy of them all. He could be out there somewhere, roaming redwood groves, and streaking through campsites anywhere from Sky Londa to the Siskiyous.

Bigfoot is finally getting the Bay Area event the subject has long deserved with the Bigfoot Bonanza at the Balboa Theatre all next weekend (March 10-12). For this first-ever Bigfoot conference in San Francisco itself, programmer Kai Wada of the Super Shangri-La Show is giving the people what they want by mixing talks by serious Sasquatch hunters with screenings of the “Six Million Dollar Man” and “In Search Of” episodes that made the monster famous. And if all that wasn’t enough, beer and tacos are included with the price of admission.

‘No one has ever put Bigfoot speakers and Bigfoot films together into one event,’ Bigfoot researcher Kathy Strain enthuses.

Strain is one of several Sasquatch experts who will be presenting at the Bigfoot Bonanza along with Cliff Barackman of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, and the members of Female Squatchin’, the Ultimate All Female Bigfoot Team.

Strain first became captivated by the mythical proto-hominid when she saw The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), a mournful docudrama about a three-toed Arkansas swamp ape that used to be a mainstay on KTVU before Fox affiliation ruined everything.

Inspired by Boggy Creek, Strain went on to earn her master’s in Anthropology from CSU Bakersfield, and authored the book Giants, Cannibals & Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture (Hancock House, 2008). While her book takes a more scholarly approach to the Sasquatch phenomenon, Strain has “witnessed four Bigfoot in three separate encounters.” After a lifetime spent searching for them, Strain first crossed paths with the creatures in 2012 during a trip to Oklahoma.

“Two Bigfoot were coming towards me from about 40 yards away,” Strain recalls. Once Strain started running towards the beasts, they hightailed it up a hill away from her. When asked what she would do if the Sasquatches kept running towards her instead, she says she would’ve “tried to get as much info about them as possible — how did their nose look, their teeth, et cetera — and maybe a handful of hair.”

Asked if she was afraid of the animals, she replies, “not even slightly.”

You can hear Strain talk about her quest for the Sasquatch at the Bigfoot Bonanza on Saturday, March 11 at 6 p.m. The Legend of Boggy Creek will be screened during all three nights of the festival.

Bigfoot Bonanza at the Balboa Theatre, March 10-12, 3630 Balboa St., bigfootbonanza.com

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Bob Calhoun @j_schiewe

Jessie Schiewe was the Music Editor for SF Weekly from Fall 2015 to Summer 2017. She is now the editor and publisher of OK Whatever (www.okwhatever.org), an online publication dedicated to all things weird and strange. You can send her mail at jessie@okwhatever.org.

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