While many Hastings residents know crowds of people are expected in town Friday and Saturday to learn more about Bigfoot, seeing one walking the streets of the downtown business district Thursday afternoon may have taken some locals aback.
No cause for alarm, however: As it turns out, this Sasquatch was an impersonator, albeit a knowledgeable one.
Ken Collins of Estes Park, Colorado, arrived in Hastings Wednesday for the third annual Nebraska Bigfoot Conference that takes place Friday and Saturday at the Hastings City Auditorium, 400 N. Hastings Ave.
On Thursday, he and his fellow Bigfoot researcher, conference organizer Harriett McFeely of Hastings, took some time to meet and greet townspeople and wave at passing motorists who whooped, hollered and honked their horns. Their tour included a brief stop at the Tribune offices.
Collins, who grew up in Lincoln and Seward, said he has been doing Bigfoot research in the Colorado Rocky Mountains for three decades: first in the Colorado Springs/Pike's Peak area, next around Divide, and then for the last 13 years at Estes Park. He has experienced two sightings of Bigfoot, both in 2013.
He attended the Nebraska Bigfoot Conference in 2018, is back this year, and even is thinking of establishing a residence in Hastings where he and McFeely could collaborate in their work. Besides organizing the yearly conferences, McFeely operates the Nebraska Bigfoot Crossroads of America Museum just north of town.
"We come down to support Harriett because we're all in our Bigfoot circle," Collins said. "She gets the best speakers. Any of us would kill to have her speakers."
Collins said he became fascinated with Bigfoot as a child and has devoted much of his life to learning more about them. His primary occupation is as an oil rig worker.
He and his collaborators in Estes Park are organizing the inaugural Bigfoot Days conference there April 12-13. James "Bobo" Fay, star investigator of the recently ended "Finding Bigfoot" television series on Animal Planet, who is scheduled to speak Saturday in Hastings, will be appearing at the Estes Park event, also.
The Nebraska Bigfoot Conference begins Friday morning and runs through Saturday afternoon. Tickets will be available at the door.