1st-ever Crypto Con planned in Harlan Saturday

Published 10:37 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The first-ever Harlan Crypto Con will be held Saturday, and event director Jimmy Blanton expects the event to draw hundreds of people to the area.

Harlan Crypto Con, which will be held at the Depot from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., will feature expert Bigfoot and Cryptid lecturers from across the nation, Cryptid vendors, mountain artisans, food and fun. Blanton said he came up with the idea for the event to stimulate more economic activity in his hometown.

“I just got tired of sitting around, and not doing anything to try to make a difference here in Harlan,” Blanton said. “Everyone knows we’ve been economically distressed here since the coal industry started declining. We need something new here to draw people and to rejuvenate the area. We need to start thinking outside of the box to make things happen.”

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And — Crypto Cons definitely involve thinking outside of the box. These conferences that feature exploration into the unknown, including Cryptozoology, the paranormal and extraterrestrial research, are the latest craze in the nation, and Blanton believes the unique and peculiar history and mystery surrounding Harlan County provide the perfect setting for a Crypto Con in Appalachia. While Saturday’s Crypto Con will more specifically focus on Bigfoot, Blanton said you don’t have to believe in the elusive beast to attend.

“Whether or not you believe in Bigfoot is not what’s important here,” he said. “What’s important is that you believe in your community — that you believe in our people and our potential. Crytpo Cons are huge because people are fascinated with the unknown, especially the debatable existence of Bigfoot. Starting an annual event like this in Harlan will not only attract huge numbers to our hometown, it will also be a catalyst to get people thinking more.”

Popular YouTube host and movie producer Ed Brown, of Los Angeles, California, will be Harlan, Crypto Con’s event emcee on Saturday. Brown, whose film making company is called BigTruth Productions, is also a devout Bigfoot researcher. He’s been all over the nation in pursuit of Bigfoot, and his first visual took place on Black Mountain in Harlan County in 2015. Brown plans to talk about his Bigfoot encounter Saturday during his time behind the speaker’s podium. Brown said he got involved in the Harlan Crypto Con because of its educational intent, as well as Blanton’s desire to do something productive for his hometown.

“When Jimmy told me that this event was all about community education and enrichment, and was free to the public, I knew I had to be involved,” Brown said. “The idea of a Crypto Con in Harlan is a fabulous idea, and what these events do for the town itself is phenomenal.”

Brown points to several towns throughout the nation that have utilized Crypto Cons for their benefit, such as Point Pleasant, West Virginia — a town that is known for its Mothman legend. Another famous town that he is quick to point out is Roswell, New Mexico.

“Did a UFO crash there in 1942?” Brown asked. “I don’t know. But I can tell you this. Millions and millions of people go there every year just because of the possibility that one did.”

Brown said he has been all over the country in the last 15 years, researching Bigfoot in 11 different states, but that in all his travels, his only sighting took place in Harlan County. He believes this fact — as well as the research conducted by other local Bigfoot chasers — is enough to draw in multitudes to the area because “something is here.”

“The idea is to build upon this legend — to build upon the sighting reports and to turn it into something big for Harlan County,” Brown said. “With a small town like Harlan, that has so much natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, rich history and friendly people, the sky is the limit with the support of an annual Crypto Con. I’m excited about it, and I hope Harlan Countians become excited about it, too.”

Bigfoot and Cryptid lecturers from not only California, but Oklahoma and Virginia, are also joining Brown on the panel of speakers for Saturday’s Crypto Con. Matthew Delph, point man for Virginia’s MECRO (Mountain Empire Cryptid Researchers Organization) group, will be talking about his own Bigfoot experience, along with other Cryptids like Mothman and Dog Man, as well as government cover-ups. Local Bigfoot researcher Michael Cook of Cook Cryptid Research will be lecturing on the history of Cryptids; Bristol, Virginia, filmmaker Bill Lancaster will be showing his recent documentary entitled “Cultured Bigfoot”; Oklahoma author Arla Collett will be lecturing on her experience with a juvenile Bigfoot when she was six years old; local Appalachian author Judith Victoria Hensley will be lecturing on the return of panthers to the mountains; local paranormal expert Tony Felosi will be lecturing on infrasound; and Cleveland, Tennessee, educational professional Jeff Ellis will be lecturing on extraterrestrials.

Mountain artistry will be on display Saturday at the Depot, with a lengthy list of local artists and craftspeople demonstrating their work. Cryptid vendors will be set up with T-shirts, jewelry and other Cryptid collector items. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife will have an info booth promoting wildlife education and outdoor recreation. Harlan County 4-H will be selling hot dog dinners throughout the day, and Bigfoot himself will be there to delight both the young and young at heart. Cosplayer Roger Peters will be dressed as Bigfoot for “Selfies With Squatch.”

“The day promises to be both fun and informative here in Harlan,” Blanton said. “It’s a day for the whole family, and event entrance is free. We are hoping our first-ever Harlan Crypto Con will open people’s minds as to what all exists out there in the wide world of the unknown, but will also open people up to the possibilities that exist for a vital future for Harlan County. We just want people to believe.”

For more information about The Harlan Crypto Con, log onto the con’s Facebook event page by typing 1st Annual Harlan, KY Crypto Con in the search bar, or call 606-573-4223.