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EIU Professor Places Spotlight on Bigfoot Believers, Writes Book

Feb-03-2016

Like the men and women on a hunt for the legendary Bigfoot, Joe Gisondi was on the hunt for what drives these believers.

As he traveled to eight locations across the country, Gisondi “trekked” in remote woods, swamps, harsh terrain and national parks with these men and women. After his travels, the Eastern Illinois University journalism professor released a book this month documenting his adventures. The book is titled “Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot.”

A lecture about his book will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4 at Buzzard Auditorium in Buzzard Hall on EIU’s campus. Bigfoot researcher Harold Benny will share his experiences searching for Bigfoot with Gisondi.

In his book, Gisondi brings to life the men and women like Benny as he tries to uncover what motivates them in their obsessive searches. Reports of man-like, hairy creature or “Bigfoot” are embedded within American folklore and have fascinated American culture for 400 years.

After starting his project in 2009, Gisondi traveled to Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia and Ohio to form relationships with these believers. He quickly realized that most of the searchers are not crazy loons, but instead normal citizens, he said.

To start his project, he reached out to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, and then started building relationships from there.  His initial interest for the project started for his love for camping, but then expanded from there.

“If you want to find a good story, find people who are passionate about something,” said Gisondi, referring why he started focusing on the Bigfoot believers. While his project doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of Bigfoot, Gisondi can’t help but lend toward the side of belief.

“There are too many people who say that something exists out there to discount it out of hand,” he said. “So I am interested, and I want to believe, but like any journalist I need the evidence.”

Gisondi worked as a journalist for more than 20 years before coming to EIU in 2002.  For more information about Gisondi’s book, click here. For more information about his lecture, contact EIU’s journalism department at (217) 581-6003 or journal@eiu.edu.