Terry Morrow: 'Finding Bigfoot' leaves its large print in our terrain

TV personality Cliff Barackman, center bottom, from the Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot show signs autographs for fans on Friday, November 16, 2012 at the Powell Auction House. (Chad Greene/Special to the News Sentinel)

Photo by Chad Greene, 2012 // Buy this photo

TV personality Cliff Barackman, center bottom, from the Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot show signs autographs for fans on Friday, November 16, 2012 at the Powell Auction House. (Chad Greene/Special to the News Sentinel)

Looking for Bigfoot? Try going to Dollywood.

That’s not a crack at the tourist with the hairy arms, sporting an oversized muumuu and wearing the 12-inch-long sandals.

According to “Finding Bigfoot,” which airs at 10 on Sunday on Animal Planet, one family witnessed a Bigfoot crossing the road near Dollywood recently. Estimating the creature to be 8 feet tall and very muscular, the family said it saw the Bigfoot dart across a dark road as they drove toward it.

The show’s ultimate conclusion: Knoxville and the surrounding area is a haven for Bigfoots. Perhaps, like us humans, they enjoy a little alone time with all the water slides, miniature golf and roller coasters.

The researchers conclude it’s much more than that. The Bigfoots like the terrain.

“Apparently, Knoxville is surrounded by Squatch (Bigfoot) areas,” said researcher Ranae Holland.

During the episode, Holland jokingly asks locals if they know where she can find some moonshine.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett welcomed the “Finding Bigfoot” reality show to Knoxville, citing his own interest in the subject and saying the show’s presence would be good for the area. Being one of Animal Planet’s most popular series, “Finding Bigfoot” in Knoxville would shed light on the area to millions of viewers.

There is picturesque footage of the Great Smoky Mountains, and the interviewees are well spoken with barely a trace of a local accent. Likewise, there aren’t stereotypical overalls or heavy banjo music, and everyone is wearing shoes.

“Finding Bigfoot” doesn’t take itself too seriously. The show uses two hog callers recommended by Burchett for help.

Hog calls are, apparently, an effective way to communicate with Bigfoots, according to the researchers.

A couple of scenes from a town hall meeting set at the Sunsphere show Burchett in the background. Almost all the attendees indicate to the researchers that they’ve had some sort of interaction with a Bigfoot locally.

The team scours the Knoxville area to check up on reports of Bigfoot — from a man who says one was peering at him from a window in his home to the Dollywood sighting.

Researchers hear growling and freshly fallen trees, which they offer as possible evidence of Bigfoot activity.

But the vast majority of time is spent with the researchers in the dark woods, using infrared equipment to spot a Bigfoot.

Long story short: Did they actually find a Bigfoot? That will be a story for another day.

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