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Bigfoot presentation draws a big crowd

Published: Sun, August 11, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Bob Jackson



They came in surprising droves, driving Harleys and Hummers and everything in between.

Some were believers, some weren’t, and some were on the fence. They were of all ages, and from all walks of life, but they’d all come to hear about Bigfoot and talk about whether he truly exists — and whether he’s left his big footprints in local woods.

Some 200 people crammed into Leetonia’s Community Public Library for a presentation by Ohio’s Genoskwa Project, a team of researchers dedicated to proving the existence of the legendary creature. There were so many people that not all of them could fit into the meeting room, leaving some to stand outside looking in, while some simply grew frustrated and left.

“I guess more people believe in Bigfoot than I thought,” said Paul Hayes of Canton, the group’s founder and lead researcher, who said he was surprised at the huge turnout.

“If they find him, maybe he ought to run for president,” 68-year-old Frederick Smith of Warren quipped about Bigfoot just before the event started. “He seems to be awful popular.”

Smith said he doesn’t really believe such a creature exists, but made the drive to Leetonia out of curiosity. When the meeting room filled to capacity before he got a seat, he simply chose to sit in the library’s lobby and read a newspaper.

The presentation included audio and video presentations of reported Bigfoot sightings, as well as plaster casts of supposed Bigfoot prints and other evidence of his existence.

Hayes and co-founder Dan Baker of Sebring said there have been reported sightings of Bigfoot in Columbiana, Carroll and Stark counties, as recently as a month ago in Franklin Square.

“That’s something that’s hard to believe,” said 78-year-old Frank Tavolario of Boardman, who said he’s a Bigfoot believer but isn’t sure that such a creature walks among the hills and trees of the Mahoning Valley. “I guess it could be, but I’m not too sure.”

He does believe, though, that “Sasquatch” is real.

“What’s interesting to me is the [number of] sightings by reputable people all over the world,” Tavolario said, “I don’t think every one of them is hallucinating.”

He also understands that while he is “one of those crazy people” who believes Bigfoot exists, most people are skeptical, if not scornful, toward those who believe.

“But that’s OK,” he said. “It’s good to be skeptical, but keep an open mind. They said the sign of an intelligent person is an open mind.”

Baker assured those in attendance that anyone who chose to share their Bigfoot experiences with Genoskwa team members could do so with absolute confidentiality. He said the group wants people to be able to share experiences without suffering persecution.

Brian Seese, 50, of Columbiana, and his 17-year-old niece, Rachael Lavender of New Middletown, showed up wearing ballcaps that said, “Gone Sasquatchin’” across the front. Seese said he’s been a believer for years, and he’s working on making his niece a convert.

“He got me interested because he made me start watching ‘Finding Bigfoot’ on Animal Planet,” Lavender said, laughing.

“I think people are always going to be skeptical, but we can’t be stupid enough to think that things do not exist,” said Seese, who believes there are several Sasquatches all over the country. “We can’t have looked in every nook and cranny.”

Vanessa Lalama of Columbiana, 36, who’d come with her husband, Brian, 36, and their 6-month-old daughter, Leighton, said she was not surprised by the large showing, or by the reports of Bigfoot sightings in the area.

“My husband and I both grew up around here, and we’ve always heard the rumors,” she said. “We came out today because we wanted to find out what other people have seen and heard.”

Youngstown State University students Liz Hornberger, 21, and Cally Wollet, 20, said they came at the request of a friend, who they said is a die-hard Bigfoot believer.

“I’m not a believer, so I came to see if I can be convinced,” Hornberger said. “So many people have videos, so maybe there’s really something to it.”

Justin Hite, Leetonia’s community development coordinator, said when the Genoskwa Project contacted the village about hosting such an event, he saw it as a tourism opportunity.

“I’ve been to northern California, where there’s a million small towns, and they all have a Bigfoot museum, and the parking lots are always full,” said Hite, 29. “I knew this would be a popular program, but I didn’t expect this.”


1thehunted(4 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

HellaBB....you don't seem very educated to me with all your name calling and derogatory comments toward people,you actually remind me of someone who doesn't like what anybody does.If you are so great and educated,get out of your chair and stop complaining and go out and educate people. I for one know this creature exists because I have seen it myself,you or anybody else will not tell me it was something else because I know what I saw 2 years ago.If you take everybody that has witnessed something they all cant be dreamers and liars.Hella,you have no clue what your talking about,you just like to run down others just because your mind is as closed as a book and cant see things like others.

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2southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

W C Fields once said there is a sucker born every minute...proof is in this Bigfoot presentation...LOL

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3Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Maybe I missed the sentence where is stated political affiliations and religious beliefs. Could you please point it out to me. As a footnote the only American President that has claimed to have seen an actual UFO was a Democrat by the name of Jimmy Carter, so using that VERY SLIM foothold to base a stupid accusation on I would have to say that it is the LEFTIST WACKJOB Democrats that believe in this drivel. As to your educational attainment, it must not be to great for it would seem that you can't even find the highway that leads out of town. Just a friendly bit of help for you, try using Yahoo maps or Bing maps, they should be of help finding your way out of town.

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4redeye1(5669 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

HellBB Yes your are right, this valley is full of stupid people . Just look at who you liberturds keep voting back into office time and time again. More liberturds who have ruin this valley with NO new for sight except to keep spending dollars on things we really don't need. Covelli Center for one example.

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5thehunted(4 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

I would say that either you were a naturally born hater and you think your crap doesn't stink and your better than everybody else or perhaps you might have exceeded the limitations of your medication...I don't know which.

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6dontbeafool(2095 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago


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7republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

HellaBb is a black racist who spews hatred and ignorance. He cannot hold a job because of his hatred and should be ignored because his arguments are non-sensical and illogical.

Ignore this small minded pea brain, he has no shot of achieving anything in his bitter life.

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8mariezarlingo(1 comment)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

For those who don't believe that Bigfoot exists,you should
google the bigfoot sightings in Ohio.There's a list for
each county in Ohio that's had multiple sightings over
the years.One of these sightings was reported in
Mahoning County in Canfield near the Whitehouse
Fruit Farm back in the 1990's.A young man dropped
off his girlfriend at her parent's home,and picked up
his little brother.One the way home,he drove down
rt 62,and he saw something walking along side the
road.He thought it was a man until he got closer to
it,and looked it in the eye.When this creature looked
at him face to face through the drivers window,he
started chasing the car.The little brother was
terrified.The man said he picked up speed to
45 miles an hr,and finally got away from him.He
called his family,and told what happened.When
they got in the house,the little brother hid behind
the fireplace he was so frightened.These creatures
had been known to chase cars down in other
sightings,and usually the drivers say that when
they got past 40 miles per hr,the creature could
not keep up with the car.This story among a few
others in the Mahoning Valley over the years are
all mentioned on the site for the Ohio Bigfoot
sightings.It's not a .com address.You just
google the phrase bigfoot sightings in ohio,and
you will see many stories come up about
multiple sightings,including one years ago,in
Austintown area near the Mahoning Ave,and
a side street,which runs off the side entrance
at the Walmart.This area eventually runs into
the Meander Reservoir. The home that this
man lived in as a child was on this road.He
and a friend went walking in the woods near
his home.Something chased them back to
the house.His friend ran so fast,he got a
big sharp object that put a hole into his
shoe,and went through his foot.They felt
lucky they got back to the house,as the
creature chased them to the end of the
woods where there back yard enters to
the woods.There's also a story of a
sightings at Berlin Lake Reservoir,as well
as Craig Beach,Lake Milton,and even the
flea market parking lot at night near
Brookfied. It was spotted reaching into a
garbage bin to take paper plates out that
had food left on them.The flea market had
just been in session earlier that week,and the
lights in the parking lot were lit up enough
that someone spotted it when looking out
their window. Columbiana has always been
know to have a lot of sightings over the years
as well as Mahoning County,and will continue
to have sightings.If my text is moving over to
far,I am not sure why,as it does not look to
far over when I type it out,before posting the

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9Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

A person who is felt to be deficient in judgment, good sense, or intelligence; a fool. That HellaBB would describe you for in all your infinite wisdom you can't seem to find your way out of town. Something most 18 year olds seem to be able to do. Whats the matter, do you find it to hard to leave your Mothers BASEMENT? Can't find yourself a job? What is holding you back from your desire to leave this town. Won't you be able to collect unemployment if you move out of mamma's basement,is that what scares you? Please tell us oh wise sage so we will all understand life viewed through your narrow filtered lenses. Please also explain the apparent contradiction with your wise observation that it is the right leaning bible thumpers that believe this nonsense and the fact that this area is OVERWHELMING democrat. You might want to get another hot pocket out of mom's fridge and think about that one for a while.

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