|Bigfoot hunter Wesley Acreman with map of Conecuh County.|
Last Thursday afternoon, I got the chance to attend and witness one of the most unique meetings I’ve ever been to, the organizational meeting of the Southwest Alabama Bigfoot Hunters.
Spearheaded by Bigfoot enthusiast Wesley Acreman, the meeting was held last Thursday at 4 p.m. under Pavilion 1 at Evergreen Municipal Park. I wanted to attend just to observe the meeting, and I was more than a little surprised by how it went.
Wesley, a minister who claims to have seen a Bigfoot-like creature in the Pine Orchard community, was the only one there when I got there a few minutes before four. It was a little cool, and I began to wonder if maybe the weather and the four o’clock start time had kept others from attending.
Not long after that, a car with Escambia County plates pulled up and out stepped Vince Lauria, who lives near Brewton. Vince, a 75-year-old native of Pennsylvania, got wind of the meeting after a Brewton attorney friend told him about it after reading about it in last week’s Courant.
Vince is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in a long time. He told me that he’s been investigating reports of Bigfoot and UFOs for decades and has had all sorts of unusual encounters. Vince also told me about an old newspaper story he ran across from Escambia County that told about how citizens there captured a “wild man” in the woods in the 1890s. Vince is supposed to be sending me a copy of the story, and I plan to share it with readers soon.
As things rocked on at last Thursday’s meeting, several more people started to show up, including a husband and wife couple who couldn’t stay for long. Others came and asked that I not put their name in the newspaper, mainly because they don’t want to be made fun of.
There were a couple of interesting aspects about everyone at the meeting. Everyone seemed to have a different reason for being there, and everyone seemed to have a different outlook or explanation for the Bigfoot phenomenon. The group included true believers like Wesley and skeptics like me.
Most of the meeting consisted of informal discussions about Bigfoot sightings, Bigfoot TV shows, “Bigfoot hunts” and even black panthers. One thing that became apparent during these talks was the fact that just about everyone there knew of someone else who should have been there. Absent due to work from last Thursday’s meeting were Wesley’s brothers, Virgil and Roman, who have both seen the “Pine Orchard Bigfoot,” and Ashley McPhaul, one of the biggest Bigfoot enthusiasts in Southwest Alabama.
In the end, the meeting lasted for about an hour and plans are in the works to have another meeting next month, mostly likely at a different time and location. There’s also talk of an organized “Bigfoot hunt” after hunting season ends and a possible meeting with Don McDonald, from the TV show “Killing Bigfoot,” when he comes to Evergreen next month for the Collard Green Festival.