FREMONT – Ohio isn’t short on sightings of mythical monsters.
The state just may have the coolest monsters from folklore around, from the Ohio Grassman to South Bay Bessie to the Loveland Frogman, the state has its share of cryptozoology.
It may be hard to imagine a frog man or a monster lurking in the shallow waters of Lake Erie, but beginning Friday, The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums will bring those folklore figures and other mythical creatures to life with its newest exhibit, “Ohio: An Unnatural History.” The exhibit will run through Halloween, according to Hayes Curator of Artifacts Kevin Moore.
Bigfoot, Grassman, Frogman: Ohio doing pretty well, monster-wise
The exhibit should attract crowds of all ages and local visitors who will learn about the headless motorcycle rider, one of the area’s biggest folklore stories.
Moore said the exhibit will have a little bit of everything for people of all ages, including 3-D artifacts created by Fremont-born artist Dan Chudzinski.
Chudzinski will display such works as a unicorn skull, a jackalope and a Bigfoot footprint.
There will be hands-on opportunities for children, Moore said, as children can take time to create their own artwork of a created monster that will be displayed during the exhibit’s run.
One of the unique features of the exhibit will be an Ohio map detailing sightings of some of the state’s greatest creations. That map with lists of sightings and what monster was seen will be on sale at the museum’s gift shop, Moore said.
The exhibit will feature other creatures such as the Defiance Dogman and a local favorite, South Bay Bessie.
First spotted in 1793, the 30- to 40-foot Bessie was seen in Sandusky by duck hunters.
The Lake Erie monster was usually described as a Sturgeon — a fish that dates back to the Triassic period — by various spotters.
Moore said some monsters will have life-size cutouts with information guests can read about the creatures.
“There will be seven life-size cutouts and over a dozen legends that we talk about,” Moore said.
Although the museum is known for exhibits featuring detailed artifacts, Hayes and his family, and the women’s suffrage movement, Moore said the museum’s newest exhibit should bring out a crowd of people that may not come to the museum often.
Moore said if the former President Hayes could tour the exhibit, he could imagine seeing him reading all the information about the mythic creatures, but doing so with a “bemused grin” on his face.
“I highly doubt he would believe them, but President Hayes had diverse interests and liked studying about cultures,” Moore said. “I don’t think he’d go searching for the Grassman. He was very pragmatic.”
Ohio is lush for sightings, Moore said, from wooded areas in southeast Ohio to Lake Erie in the north and everything in between.
In addition to information, cutouts and sculptures, Moore said Esther Clinton, a popular culture professor at Bowling Green State University was interviewed for the exhibit to provide an interactive learning experience for guests.