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February 1, 2012 / Charlie McNabb

Ephemera Series: Bigfoot Edition

Ephemera is the term for everyday documents meant to be used only once or a handful of times.  This includes but is certainly not limited to flyers, brochures, cards, advertisements, tickets, and programs.  These documents are often perceived as trivial and insignificant, but in fact can provide insight into social norms, cultural values, leisure activities, historical trends, demographics, folk groups, and occupational culture.  In this series, I’ll share ephemera that I’ve collected as part of my various research projects.

This edition focuses on Bigfoot-related ephemera.  Bigfoot has enjoyed popularity in American advertising since the 1970s[i] and can be found promoting various beers and breweries, toys, vehicles, and meat products.  Check out this lovely advertisement for a pair of gloves[ii], represented by a Green Man-esque Bigfoot image.  Clearly, Bigfoot represents adventure, excitement, danger, and wilderness knowledge.

Here’s another advertisement[iii], this time for the Sasquatch music festival[iv].  Here Bigfoot is selling an idea of counterculture, specifically a yearning for the chance to be a little wild and escape from the boredom and responsibilities of daily life.

Besides advertising, Bigfoot is also the subject of intense research by witnesses and enthusiasts.  One such group, the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium[v], meets yearly to attend lectures and discuss sightings and theories.  Here’s a handbill from the 2011 Symposium.

Bigfoot-related ephemera can be found in surprising places.  Here is a wildlife observation form from the McKenzie River Ranger District[vi] in Oregon.  Look at the back of the form, under the species of interest.

Wildlife Observation Form

Last, I want to share a sketch that my friend and informant Jack Pollock[vii] drew during our interview.  We were discussing the Patterson-Gimlin film and debating whether Patty was a real Bigfoot or a person in a suit.  His theory is that it was a really cutting-edge costume, made up of at least nine parts.

Jack Pollock sketch

Have you come across any Bigfoot ephemera? Please let me know and send along any photographs you take.

Links of interest:

[i] For an extensive review of Bigfoot in popular culture, see Buhs, Joshua Blu. Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

[ii] From Drop® snowboarding gear. See for more products.

[iii] Poster by Invisible Creature. Visit

[iv] A yearly alternative music festival. See

[v] Organized by the indomitable Toby Johnson:

[vi] A lovely place for hiking, camping, and squatching!

[vii] He’s a great artist! Check out his website:


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