Sasquatch exhibit starts run at state Capital Museum
Diane Huber-The Olympian
OLYMPIA — John Callender swears he saw Bigfoot deep in the woods near Montesano on Friday.
"It was something walking upright, like a human," the Federal Way resident said.
According to Callender, it was too late at night and too remote an area for the shadowy figure to be human. And its stride was far to big to belong to any man.
Callender was one of more than 120 people who attended the opening day of a new yearlong Bigfoot exhibit at the Capital Museum. "Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch" explores the history and evidence of the hairy, human-like beast that is so much a part of Pacific Northwest lore.
The exhibit includes never-before-displayed artifacts and artwork, such as reproductions of footprints and an ape-like stone head found in the Columbia Basin. There also is information about stories and sightings by tribes worldwide. Some of the younger visitors decided the evidence was pretty compelling.
"I think maybe he's real. This footprint is truly amazing," 6-year-old Colson Utter of Olympia said while examining a 17-inch cast of a footprint through a magnifying glass.
Diane Utter said Colson and his younger brother Eli, 4, are fascinated by Sasquatch.
"They're always asking me to look at it on the Internet. They're always asking if it's real and who believes in it," she said.
The Steiner siblings are torn.
"There's a lot of convincing sightings," 9-year-old Jack Steiner said.
But he and his sister Emma, 12, have a hard time believing Sasquatch could survive in modern times.
"The only weird thing is ... since we have so much development and with cutting down the forests — how can they live? These are big creatures. What are they eating?" Emma said.
Museum manager Susan Rohrer said it took a year to compile the research and artifacts. Museum staff plan to have educational programs throughout the length of the exhibit, including a panel in spring of representatives from local tribes who will talk about the stories and cultural significance of Bigfoot.
She said the exhibit goes beyond evidence of Bigfoot's existence.
"We wanted to tell the story of the Northwest culture that is the basis of Sasquatch," she said.
After dedicating so much time and research to the project, is Rohrer a believer?
She's "skeptical, willing to be persuaded," she said. "But I do respect a lot of the work people have done on the subject."
Diane Huber is a reporter for The Olympian.
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