Famed Sasquatch hunter James “Bobo” Fay and star of television's "Finding Bigfoot" made a stop in Starved Rock Country Saturday as the keynote speaker during a paranormal symposium at Starved Rock Lodge.
Fay, who lives in Eureka, Calif., spoke of his many "hunts" that were the focus of his cable channel production that took him and his fellow researchers around the world.
"I believe there are many more photos and videos (or unknown creatures) which have yet to be released for various reasons, including personal privacy," said Fay.
Some Bigfoot believers call the creature "the missing link" – a humanoid, yet unidentified ape species intelligent enough to hide from civilization and steadfast chasers.
Also known as the Yeti, Sasquatch or the Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot sightings have been reported most frequently in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, the Himalayan Mountains and many other parts of the U.S.
Saturday, Fay said he knows of many sightings of the elusive creature cited from hunters in Southern Illinois.
Fay's "Finding Bigfoot" was a popular Animal Planet reality-based program that premiered in May 2011. The program followed Fay and other investigators in search of evidence proving the existence of Bigfoot. The series finale and the 100th episode was released on May 27, 2018.
Among those in attendance at the Lodge presentation was 21-year-old Lilly Knapp, of Joliet, who was brought to the symposium by her grandfather, Joe Ambrozich.
"I was a fan of the 'Finding Bigfoot' show and have always been intrigued by paranormal stories of the creature," Knapp said. "Bobo's talk here today was fun and interesting. I enjoyed the personal side of stories about his hunts. It would be cool to see a Sasquatch – maybe someday."
Fay's appearance was part of a two-day event, "History & Mystery Weekend" at the Lodge hosted by the Chicago Hauntings, a paranormal organization, that also presented programs on UFOs, Illinois Valley ghost stories, Native American legends and the 1960 Starved Rock Murders.
Sitting in the front row, Rebecca Vanmeter, of Decatur, said she has long been a Bigfoot believer and came to Utica Saturday to meet Fay.
"Like many here, I was a huge follower of his TV show and I enjoyed his presentation," Vanmeter said. "Bobo was funny, entertaining and very interesting. It was well worth the drive. I"ll be looking forward to his return to television if his show comes back."
Besides relating stories from his many Bigfoot hunts, Fay also showed photos from his travels around the world and played audio recordings of suspected Sasquatch sounds from various sources.
Fay said his television program may reappear in the near future.
"We are in talks about it," he said.
Asked about what he tells skeptics about the reality of Bigfoot, Fay jokingly said, "Beat it." He quickly added, "The evidence is there."
La Salle County's own cryptid — the DuPont monster (a Sasquatch that supposedly lurks near Seneca) – is also the stuff of local legends.
According to an investigator for the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, the woods on both sides of Seneca near the Illinois River have been the home of Bigfoot-type creatures.
In a 2005 Times article, "(One sighting east of Seneca in Grundy County) involved two campers who had a dark evening encounter with a creature near their campsite close enough that they could hear it breathe and pick up an odor that was a cross between garbage and musk cologne. By firelight they could see the creature was wide and about 8 feet tall. As it prowled nearby, the men became scared and crawled away."
As Fay said, the hunt for the truth continues.