PORTLAND — Sisters Tara and Laura Parker made the five-and-a-half-hour trip from New York for the third annual International Cryptozoology Conference because sometimes driving around in their neck of the woods they wonder, just what’s out there?
“We’re big into the fun stories,” Tara Parker said. “We live in a really rural area, so you hear weird things. There’s always a possibility when you’re driving on back roads” of running into something.
Roughly 250 people were expected to turn out over the two-day conference at Thompson’s Point Brick South to hear talk about Bigfoot, Lake Champlain monster Champ, research projects for still-to-be-found creatures and historical what-was-that sightings.
Colin Schneider, 17, presenting Sunday, was there with his new book written with Tyler Houck, “Ramblings of Teenaged Cryptozoologists.”
“I spend hours and hours and hours going through books, records and files, especially newspapers, looking for interesting stories,” said Schneider, from Ohio. “I’m more interested in the folklore than I am proving these creatures to exist. I like finding weird things that no one’s ever heard of before, (such as) the Vampire Cat of Brandenburg.”
Talking about his work on “The Vermont Monster Guide” with artist Stephen Bissette, author Joseph Citro said that state seemed to have a surprising number of cryptids, which they jokingly call “Vermonsters.”
“Some of (the sighting stories) are simply more believable than others,” Citro said.
Having lived by Lake Champlain for years, Citro said he’s heard a number of convincing stories about Champ. In one, a woman said she watched a creature swim along, head raised out of the water, then saw it look up at a plane passing overhead and slip back below the water.
Jeff Herod, of West River, Maryland, said he and his wife Holly combined coming up to Maine for the conference with a trip to visit family in Poland. Both biologists, he said they’ll sometimes come across rare animals and fish in their work, though nothing Bigfoot-rare.
“To come and be with a group of people you see on TV, I’ve read their books, it’s really nice to be in the same room,” Herod said.
Throughout the day Saturday, conference attendees could go across the street to the International Cryptozoology Museum, which in opening remarks, founder and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman said was the only museum like it in the world.
It attracts 12,000 visitors per year. Later this month, the TV show “Mysteries at the Museum” will be there to film for the 10th time.
“It’s a great way to let the world know we exist and to come to Portland,” Coleman said.
Chupacabra used to be the hot, much-talked-about cryptid, he said. More recently, it’s been the Dog Man that people claim to see.
“I think they’re really (seeing) Bigfoot, but you’ve got to be open-minded,” he said.
Jeff Herod poses for a photo with Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology and well-known Sasquatch researcher, Saturday morning at the third annual International Cryptozoology Conference in Portland. (Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal)
Colin Schneider, 17, with his new book written with Tyler Houck, “Ramblings of Teenaged Cryptozoologists,” at the International Cryptozoology Conference on Saturday in Portland. Schneider said he’s one of nine cryptozoologists in the world under age 20. (Kathryn Skelton/Staff Writer)
Loren Coleman gave the Cryptozoologist of the Year award to Anna Nekaris on Saturday to highlight work she’s done studying the slow loris, a large-eyed endangered Asian primate. Coleman said Nekaris speaks five languages from all of the different places she’s studied them. She’ll receive the award at center and $1,000 from the International Cryptozoology Museum. (Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal)