Watch for a ‘squatch: Conference on the Unexplained kicks off in Hempfield
Glenn Adkins of Ohio has been obsessed with finding Bigfoot since the fourth grade.
“I saw the old movie ‘Sasquatch,’ a real old, cheesy ’70s movie, and from that point on I wanted to do it,” he said.
Adkins and a partner from the Ohio Squatch Project have a booth at this weekend’s inaugural Western Pennsylvania Conference on the Unexplained, which runs through Sunday at the Ramada on Route 30 in Hempfield.
“A lot of the folks who are here have been at my other shows,” said conference producer Kelly Simon. “A lot of them said we should have a conference dedicated to (the unexplained).”
From the Pennsylvania Cryptozoological Society to ghost hunters to the stars of Travel Channel’s “Mountain Monsters” show — far and away the most popular booth at the conference — nearly all varieties of paranormal phenomena are on display.
Adkins can remember asking for maps of Oregon and Washington for a birthday present when he was in school, “so I could plan my expedition.”
Later on, Adkins was introduced to Bob Morgan, “one of the leading Bigfoot guys in the business,” he said. “He took me under his wing, and we worked together for 10 years; then I started doing it on my own.”
Closer to Westmoreland County, Katrina Vogel of Trafford creates paranormal artwork, which she is selling at her booth this weekend.
“I was raised a believer,” she said. “It’s just always been a passion of mine.”
Vogel’s inspiration comes from witness accounts in paranormal podcasts she listens to.
“A lot of them also come from extremely vivid dreams I have,” she said. “And others just come out of thin air.”
In addition to informational booths and vendors, the conference features a number of presentations, including by Stan Gordon of Greensburg, a paranormal researcher and former Pennsylvania state director for the Mutual UFO Network. Gordon has appeared on news and documentary shows on the SyFy, History and Discovery channels.
A screening room has been set up to show movies and documentaries throughout the weekend.
“So many of them are about our local area, which is one of the most popular for reported (paranormal) sightings,” Simon said. “So I thought, ‘why not do a movie room?’”
Simon said the Ramada is an ideal venue to kick off the conference’s initial outing.
“It’s just the right size for starting up a new show,” she said. “If it gets bigger, we can always move to (the) Monroeville (Convention Center).”
The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Ramada, 100 Ramada Drive in Hempfield. Tickets are $15, and children under 12 are admitted free.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .