Bigfoot sightings continue in Guernsey County
In January 2020, a video surfaced of a hairy, ape-like creature stalking Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County. The video, taken by a man named Eric (who preferred to not reveal his last name), caused a stir and received statewide media attention.
There is no shortage of alleged Bigfoot sightings in Guernsey County, or elsewhere in the state.
According to BFRO.net, a website that tallies the number of Bigfoot sightings across North America, Guernsey County had 14 reported listings in 2020—nearly the most in Ohio, second only to Portage. Ohio ranked fourth in most reported Bigfoot sightings in the country in 2020 with 302 listings.
“If you take 100 reports, 85% of those are flushed immediately, the next 7% are hoaxes and the remaining 7% you have to take seriously given what they’ve found, the measurements, and whatever has been said to the media,” Marc DeWerth, head of the Ohio Bigfoot Conference, says.
Salt Fork has hosted the Ohio Bigfoot Conference since it began in 2005. One of the speakers from this year’s conference, Russ Jones, a certified master naturalist, says alleged sightings wouldn’t be as common if people knew what Bigfoot truly looked like.
“95% of people misidentify him,” Jones says. “He has wrinkles in his eyes, can be smaller or bigger, has no hair on his face, long hair on his arms (about three-four inches) in a reddish-brown color, and can come in all colors because Bigfoot is a species.”
Jones is a regular when it comes to the Ohio Bigfoot Conference and has been a guest speaker three times in the last several years.
“There’s not one day I don’t deal with something Bigfoot-related,” Jones says.
In 2012, once DeWerth took over as head, Jones and the Ohio Bigfoot Organization changed the name of the conference to the Ohio Bigfoot Conference.
What began as a public event to discuss Bigfoot has now grown into the largest Bigfoot-related conference in North America.
“The Bigfoot Conference blows every other conference out of the water. Every year we have around 5,000 to 6,000 people show up for the entire weekend … All 144 rooms and 40-50 cabins sell out in less than five days when we announce the dates for the conference,” DeWerth says.
The conference is a three-day event with guest speakers, presentations on findings and research and hikes along trails where Bigfoot is said to have been spotted.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference didn’t have the usual turnout they’ve grown accustomed to, with only 400-500 registered guests for the weekend. Despite having to spread vendors out a little more and having more space to work with, DeWerth says he has new ideas for the conference in the future.
“This year, we used up all three levels inside the lodge for people selling Bigfoot apparel, had guest speakers run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and had food trucks outside for people and thought it worked better than expected … definitely bringing the food trucks back next year,” DeWerth says.
The next conference will be held the weekend of May 1, 2021. DeWerth, who been involved with Bigfoot for over three decades, says he hasn’t had to work a single day. He enjoys all things Bigfoot-related because it’s a hobby to him.
“Researching Bigfoot isn’t a job, it’s supposed to be a hobby, and a hobby is supposed to be fun,” DeWerth says.