Let's Get Squatchy: Memphis Bigfoot Festival 2018

As a sort of Bigfoot fanatic, I'm always eager to hear about new theories in the community. Last year around this time, while I was perusing for fun Memphis events (swiping through the typical trivia nights, craft fairs, and all the other blah blah blah), my cryptid-spotting antennae popped up at the site of "Big Foot Fest 2017".  Of course, without hesitation, I grabbed my squad (whether they believed or not), and dragged them to Memphis Made Brewery, the host location for the event. Last year marked the fifty-year anniversary since the release of the Patterson-Gimlin film, one of the first (and most recognized) documented Bigfoot sightings. In honor of Patterson and Gimlin, Memphian Toby Sells organized the festival to host discussions with locals about Bigfoot, watch videos, share personal stories about potential encounters, and create a sort of community between both skeptics and believers. Last year included an eclectic mixture of panelists, from a man who devoted his life to research, to a skeptical film exec who recently produced an indie movie about two kids searching for Bigfoot themselves. 

The festival made its reprise this past weekend, once again at Memphis Made. People filed in, practically shoulder to shoulder around the makeshift stage where the panels and discussions took place. Perhaps the most interesting part of the event was seeing the diverse group it brought in. From wanderers who were initially planning to stop by to grab a simple beer with some friends, to the cryptid aficionados clad in their best Bigfoot merchandise (my personal favorite was the hoodie that read Bigfoot Saw Me, But Nobody Believes Him). I got a seat in the front row, and sat next to an older couple who have followed Bigfoot research for the past few decades. They've attended different conventions about Bigfoot in the past, and told me how excited they were that one had finally come to Memphis. (if that's not #relationshipgoals, then I don't know what is)

The first speaker of the night was Mark "Sawdustt" Newbill, a lifelong believer and researcher by hobby. A native of Tipton County, Tennessee, (a hotspot for Bigfoot sightings in the Southeast, not more than an hour from Memphis) he's a founding member of both B.E.A.S.T (Bigfoot Evidence Analysts: Sawdustt Team) and The Bigfoot Outlaws. Both are a collective of friends that have traveled all over the U.S. to study highly-concentrated sighting areas, primarily tracking traveling routes and foot prints. Newbill shared a some interesting pieces of evidence, specifically a few potential "Bigfoot calls". He claims that because each animal call has its own personal sound frequency, and those recorded match no frequency scientifically documented, it could indicate an unknown species is making the call. (Watch the video here, and skip to 2:27 for the call Newbill shared during the panel.)

However, the most interesting piece of trivia Newbill shared with the group was that in the South, Sasquatches are playfully referred to as "Boogers", and the act of searching for them, "Boogering". After living for almost twenty years in the South, I can confirm I have heard the likes of Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, even "Big Man", but never "Booger". We learn something new everyday, I suppose. For more info about "Sawdustt" and his Boogering adventures, subscribe to his Youtube page, where he posts everything from Booger hunting tips to expedition vlogs. 

The atmosphere in the room, although briefly getting a little testy when skeptics got their hands on the mic, projected a true sense of camaraderie. Believers and non-believers of all ages huddled up on the brewery floor, and listened to the stories as it were a bonfire and we were at summer camp. Whether you take it as fact or fiction, the Memphis Bigfoot Festival is an experience you don't want to miss while you're living in Memphis. If you find that on the night of next year's event you have no plans, I highly recommend gathering a squad and experiencing it together. You never know what outlandish things you might learn. 

Follow the festival's Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest from the West TN Bigfoot community.