JOHNSTOWN - Late one August evening in 1976, police officer Brian Gosselin was monitoring radar in the woods around Whitehall, in Washington County.
Suddenly, Gosselin's brother Paul and a friend pulled up in a vehicle. They told Gosselin they had just seen an 8-foot-tall creature that they believed to be the ever-elusive "Bigfoot."
Gosselin recounted this tale throughout the day Saturday for visitors to his organization's booth at the Eighth Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show at the Johnstown Moose Club. He was one of several featured guests at the event, which attracted visitors from around the region.
The Eighth Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show began Saturday in Johnstown. Here, Larry Schmiedel of East Worcester, Otsego County, holds a reverse-limb crossbow at the event as Tom Poyhe, right, of the New York Crossbow Coalition, assists him.
Bill Brann, left, and Brian Gosselin, center, both of the Northern Sasquatch Research Society, speak Saturday with Clayton Thomas of Fonda during the Eighth Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show at the Johnstown Moose. The event continues today.
Ronald R. Boutin, representing the Trout Unlimited Clearwater Chapter, demonstrates how to tie a fly for fishing during the Adirondack Outdoorsman Show
on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Trojan/The Leader-Herald)
Gosselin, representing the Northern Sasquatch Research Society, recalled how on that night in 1976, his father, Sgt. Wilfred Gosselin of the Whitehall Police Department, called local police, a Washington County sheriff's deputy and state police to the scene.
The responders watched a "big, tall creature" - not a bear and not a man, he said - walk 500 to 600 yards through the hedgerow off the road.
"My father told me that he saw something out there that does not belong here," Gosselin said Saturday. "I believe my dad. My father was a big-time authority. I said, 'Come on dad, tell me what you saw.' He said, 'We all saw it.'"
The next night, Gosselin said, he went back to the hedgerow with a state trooper. Gosselin was in his vehicle at the bottom of the hedgerow while the trooper parked near a hayfield about 750 feet away.
He said the two were talking back and forth on their radios for 45 minutes when the trooper asked, "Did you hear that?" Both officers heard a limb cracking. The state trooper began cursing, drove right past Gosselin and didn't stop until he was no longer in sight.
Gosselin thought the officer was playing a joke on him. He got out of his vehicle and heard what sounded like a large creature in the brush. He turned on his million-watt spotlight and saw an 8-foot-tall creature with dark black and reddish hair cover its eyes and let out a deep-toned scream, he said.
"My life flashed before my eyes," he said. "A billion thoughts [in a split second] ... I'm seeing something that doesn't exist, yet there it is, right in front of me."
For the next five minutes, Gosselin said, he watched the creature turn and walk 1,000 feet up the hedgerow and disappear over the ridge.
The two-day Adirondack Outdoorsman Show is scheduled to continue today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Johnstown Moose Family Center on South Comrie Avenue. On Saturday, it attracted more than a thousand visitors from all over New York and even Canada, Maine and Alaska.
The vendors and attractions included hunting groups, a world-record-holding fisherman, gun enthusiasts, an interactive crossbow booth and all things outdoors.
Gosseli's booth and the Parker Company Bows booths garnered a lot of attention on Saturday, and when other vendors weren't talking to interested guests, they were sharing their love for the outdoors with each other.
Richard Stanton of Lake Ontario Sport Fishing in Auburn said he enjoys coming to these events to see what other vendors have to offer, and he said New York state has everything you could ever want from the outdoors.
"Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping - no matter what it may be, it's here," Stanton said. "No matter where you live in New York state, you have the best fresh-water fishing in the world at Lake Ontario. You have the Finger Lakes. You have the Adirondacks. Where can you go in the whole country and get all of this in one state? That's why I love it."
Ed Lugdon and Randy Hill drove 11 hours from Maine to staff an informational booth on hunting at this year's event after hearing about it during a trip to Peck's Lake in the summer of 2011.
Lugdon said he has had experience traveling through the state when he drove his daughter to Elmira College in the early 2000s.
"I was always impressed with this countryside," he said. "When you think New York, when you're not from New York, you think the city ... The people and the countryside are identical [to Maine's]."
Hill said the show was very-well run and he was impressed by how many people he saw.
Chuck Booker is a fisherman from Buffalo who holds 58 world records and said he doesn't normally attend this type of show, but he made an exception for this one. It was his first time in the area, and he said it was beautiful.
Mike Hauser, who organizes the event each year, said he understands that people can see some of the vendors on television, but it's a different experience when you meet them and discuss the outdoors with them face-to-face. And that's what draws people to the show each year.
"You can strike up a conversation with them and see it first-hand [here]," Hauser said. "That's the kind of interaction you're not going to get from watching it on television ... Where do I see the show going? I see myself continually fine-tuning and tweaking vendors - creating new and unique featured guests every year."
When the event continues today, visitors will be able to view and try out outdoors equipment, including a hands-on crossbow lesson.
Tickets cost $5 for adults and $1 for youths 15 and younger.
John Borgolini can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.