Expedition: Bigfoot! (Sasquatch Museum)
Cherry Log, Georgia
Bigfoot is everywhere. That's the message you receive when you visit Expedition Bigfoot. Not conceptually everywhere, like in public awareness. Literally everywhere, including in your back yard.
"They're in the suburbs," said David Bakara, a Bigfoot researcher who opened the attraction in early 2016 with his wife, Melinda. David said that every day he meets visitors to Expedition Bigfoot with tales of their own Bigfoot sightings.
"I've read that only one out of every ten people who've seen a Bigfoot will report it," said David. "I think it's one out of every hundred." Apparently a lot of people have seen Bigfoot but keep it a secret.
David understands. "They don't even want their families to know," he said. "Most people who tell us, only tell us."
Despite Bigfoot's legendary elusiveness, Expedition Bigfoot is filled with artifacts and displays, and its professional polish shows respect for America's favorite monster. Listening stations allow visitors to hear Bigfoot grunts and howls. Video monitors play interviews with eyewitnesses.
A big diorama dramatizes the 1924 "Ape Canyon" incident where a Bigfoot gang attacked a group of miners. Exhibits include many casts of Bigfoot footprints, several different models of Bigfoot head-types (and one towering full-body replica), and the high-tech ATV that David and Melinda used as Bigfoot investigators in Florida (They once saw two Bigfoots through a thermal imaging camera).
The Bakaras have even built a tribute exhibit to the movie that changed the course of young David's life, "The Legend of Boggy Creek." A trailer for the 1972 film loops endlessly, adding screams of horror to Expedition Bigfoot's unique soundscape of confessional witnesses, sonorous narrators, and background music that blends plaintive Indian flute-tooting with full-orchestra sword and sorcery crescendos.
David showed us a display of food seen to be eaten by Bigfoot (Zagnut bars are a favorite) and a cast of a rare Bigfoot butt-print, displayed regally on a bed of a red velvet. "Whatever made this," said David, "was very large, very muscular, very hairy. It was not a person." A collection of battered plastic containers and pie plates "were very likely handled by a Bigfoot" according to their accompanying placard. In the background, another video-recorded eyewitness relived his Bigfoot encounter: "It was tall, about 7-8 foot tall. It was black, real hairy. I knew it wasn't a gorilla, because there was no circus in town...."
Expedition Bigfoot is not a pop culture or academic museum; it's an investigator museum. It even sells Bigfoot footprint casting kits in its gift shop, assembled by David himself. The Bakaras are huge fans of roadside attractions -- David vows one day to see The Thing? -- and feel that Bigfoot can stimulate curiosity and bring people together in a way that only a giant, impossible-to-catch monster can.
As a chattering family made their way out the door, David gave us a wink. "I guarantee that for the next five hours in the car they'll be talking about Bigfoot."