On June 15 Baker City will become a center for Bigfoot enthusiasts.
Scot Violette, a Baker City resident and dedicated searcher for evidence of the huge, hairy bipeds that he and others believe roam mountain forests nearby and in other parts of the Northwest, is planning the inaugural Blue Mountain Bigfoot Fest.
The event, centered at Geiser-Pollman Park, will include a variety of Bigfoot-themed activities.
Among the highlights, said Violette, who started Blue Mountain Bigfoot Research in 2017, is an appearance by Dr. Jeff Meldrum, one of the more prominent accredited scientists who believes Bigfoot is a real species.
“What I wanted to do is a festival, just kind of a fun day, but also present some scientific evidence to our community,” said Violette, 56.
He expects between 2,000 and 3,000 people will attend the event. The Oregon Bigfoot Festival in Troutdale has attracted about 5,000 people.
“A lot of people don’t realize the popularity of Bigfoot stuff right now, it’s crazy,” Violette said.
The day starts with a Squatch-Scramble 5K run at 8 a.m., one of just two events that aren’t free.
From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. there will be vendors with food, souvenirs and information at Geiser-Pollman Park.
The only requirement for vendors is that they sell at least one Bigfoot-themed item.
Throughout the day there will be several presentations on the main stage at the Powder River Pavilion, including a Bigfoot calling lesson and contest at 11 a.m., a presentation on evidence collection techniques by Violette at 1 p.m., a presentation by Meldrum at 3 p.m., and a Bigfoot “town hall” at 5:30 p.m. with a panel of Violette, Meldrum and Jeremy Scott, who hosts a three-hour radio show about paranormal and abnormal topics. Scott will also interview Meldrum live on his show from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
The 5K run and a question-and-answer lunch with Meldrum will cost about $20 per person.
Violette, who grew up in Summerville but spent many summers in Baker City living with his grandmother, Donna Higgins, said he was inspired to plan the Baker City event in part by his attendance at Bigfoot festivals elsewhere in Oregon.
“Having been to these, I thought, we have a rich history here too and we need to present that to people, a lot of people don’t know,” Violette said.
Violette, who earned a degree in theater arts at Eastern Oregon State College (now University) in 1984 and a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of California-Berkeley in 1998, dates his fascination with Bigfoot to an afternoon in the late 1960s when he watched a short film at the Elgin Opera House.
That film is the roughly minute-long clip, shot on Oct. 20, 1967, along Bluff Creek in Northern California, that’s known as the Patterson-Gimlin film. Roger Patterson is the Bigfoot searcher who operated the 16-millimeter movie camera, and Bob Gimlin was his companion. Patterson died in 1972 but Gimlin, who’s 87, lives in Yakima, Washington, and remains a celebrity among Bigfoot enthusiasts.
The film, known as the “PGF,” shows what’s purported to be a female Bigfoot striding away from Patterson as he stood on a sandbar in Bluff Creek. It is by a wide margin the most famous piece of evidence in the Bigfoot mystery.
Violette’s Blue Mountain Bigfoot Research, a group of Baker County residents dedicated to pursuing Bigfoot, has a website — squatchoregon.com — as well as a YouTube channel. One of his videos has more than 50,000 views.
See more in the April 12, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.