I used to live in Longview, and I regularly went over to Jefferson a few miles away because I could get mayhaw jelly, go to the neato Jefferson General Store, walk along a grand nature trail, and see some fine old homes and grounds.

One October weekend I went over to Jefferson, and while cruising around I discovered that something was going on at the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau. The parking lot was full of cars. Many of them with the words Sasquatch, Yeti or Bigfoot on them. I went inside and heard a professor from Idaho State University discuss why Bigfoot may or may not exist.

It was a convention of people who believe, or at least want to believe, that a large, hairy, upright-walking beast is out there in the woods somewhere staying out of sight for the most part. But folks there at the convention, the ones I talked to anyway, say they have seen things they cannot explain.

One fellow told me he had seen such a creature wandering around in the nearby Caddo Lake area, which has a haunting atmosphere day or night and would be a great place for Bigfoot to wander. It was at least 8 feet or so tall, he said, and he asked me if that wasn’t Bigfoot then tell him what it was. I just shook my head in feigned wonder. I told him I was merely an onlooker and chose to remain blissfully ignorant on the Bigfoot question.

Many of the people at the convention were dead serious in their convictions that Bigfoot is out there. They even have a research center with a Facebook page. And in 2018, the mayor of Jefferson proclaimed the town as the Bigfoot Capital of Texas because of the many reported sightings over the years of what people claim is the creature.

One thing that struck me is all of those who said they have seen the creatures say they are between 7 and 9 feet tall. Apparently, no Bigfoot youth have ever been spotted. I guess since they would be shorter, they are harder to spot.

But some in the Bigfoot crowd do have senses of humor.

One truck I saw had a sticker on a window that had an image of what people think Bigfoot looks like and the words “World Champion Hide ‘N’ Seek.” There was a black Jeep that had vanity plates that read “BIGF 007” and the words “License to Squash” were painted on the sides of the hood.

Another thing I noticed was there were lots of items for sale, as is the case of most any convention. But of particular interest to me were all the statues of various sizes depicting what Bigfoot might look like.

Outside the venue, there was a fairly good-size replica of a Bigfoot that people could take pictures with.

And yes, I had a picture made with it.

If this has piqued your interest, this year’s conference is Friday and Saturday in Jefferson, which is 100 or so miles to the southeast of Paris. Check out the website, Texas Bigfoot Conference 2021 (ticketspice.com), to see if any of the sessions are still open. But be warned, it’s fairly pricey to hear all about Bigfoot.

David Money is the assistant managing editor for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6964 or david.money@theparisnews.com.

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