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Animal Planet show comes to Wichita, in search of Bigfoot

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, at 11:35 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 30, 2014, at 7:38 p.m.

Bigfoot lives.

He apparently doesn’t live a flashy life in Kansas. Here, he stays pretty much undercover and lives more conservatively than say his counterparts in California and Washington state where paparazzi have occasionally snapped photos and videos of the famed elusive beast.

But there have been reports.

Stories of his whereabouts have occasionally been seen or heard in western Kansas, near Kingman, Cheney Lake, El Dorado Lake and … the Big Ditch, Wichita’s flood control project defining much of west Wichita.

“What is this Big Ditch?” asked Cliff Barackman, a Bigfoot researcher and one of the stars on Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” hit TV show at a town hall meeting Saturday night.

Nearly 150 people attended the meeting at the Kansas Aviation Museum where 13 people stood before TV cameras and told their stories for a future episode this summer.

Audience members were told in advance not to:

Chew gum.

Laugh or poke fun of the people telling stories.

Use cellphones to take photos or record portions of the meeting.

Make noise. No major clapping for the Bigfoot stars was allowed.

Some of the stories were at least 40 years old; other tales were more recent – within the past few years.

There were stories of tree knocks – the sound of a Bigfoot taking a large piece of wood and whacking it against a tree.

Tales of hearing grunts and screams – the universal language of Bigfoot talking amongst themselves while in the wild.

Bigfoot stealing strings of fish.

Bigfoot hiding behind hay bales.

Through it all the stars of the show – Barackman, Ranae Holland, a field biologist, and James “Bobo” Fay, Bigfoot researcher – stood on tiny blue-tape X’s in the museum’s atrium where a Stearman Navy Trainer plane served as the backdrop.

The Kansas Aviation Museum was chosen, Sean Mantooth, a producer for the show said, because Wichita is “the air capital of the world and because the museum has such personality.”

The museum’s atrium was filled to standing room capacity. Some of the audience went to the third floor where they could watch the meeting from above.

Matt Moneymaker, the founder and president of the Bigfoot Research Organization, was not at the meeting. He was spending three nights camping by himself somewhere in Kansas.

“Hello Kansas,” Bobo Fay said when the meeting began.

What brought them to Kansas, Barackman said, was a picture of a large footprint in ice. A woman named Liz had taken it. The photo clearly showed toes, Barackman said.

The audience was mostly middle-aged white men who wore plaid shirts or camouflage clothing with an occasional wife and some children in tow.

One man, Brian McCullick of Salina, brought a large wood Bigfoot footstool which he hoped to have the stars of the show autograph.

As people stood waiting to meet the show’s celebrities and get autographs, Carter Buschardt, a Kansas City, Mo., Bigfoot researcher and field investigator stood patiently, watching the crowd.

He said there are a couple of Bigfoot hotspots in Kansas and that some of the people interviewed Saturday during the meeting were people he encouraged to come.

He did not reveal where those hotspots were.

“We just don’t think of Kansas as a sexy place for Squatches because it is not the Pacific Northwest. It is not Alaska, Michigan or Canada – but there is definitely something going on here.”

There were people like Kirk Alderson and Colten Cary, both age 11, who came because they saw a footprint at El Dorado Lake.

“It was really big,” Alderson said.

“Really big,” Cary said.

They saw it while camped out at the lake last spring.

“I think there could be one at El Dorado Lake,” Alderson said.

“There could be one in Kansas,” Cary said.

One of the stars of the show, Fay said he believes the Bigfoot in Kansas are roaming while walking the state’s river corridors.

It is typical to get between 40 to 50 witnesses willing to tell stories on camera in the Pacific Northwest, Fay said. Kansas had 13 people. Connecticut had five.

Fay said he thinks technology is helping fuel interest in Bigfoot.

“A hundred years ago people used torches. They weren’t driving their cars around with headlights or have floodlights or sensor lights come on,” Fay said. “Technology is making people see more.”

And so, what are Bigfoot like?

“Well, they are smart enough not to have jobs. They don’t pay taxes and don’t follow hunting regulations. They are anarchists,” Fay said, joking.

Fair enough.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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