West Virginia museum curator: locals know there's a Bigfoot out there

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West Virginia museum curator: locals know there's a Bigfoot out there
Belva Holstein explores the West Virginia Bigfoot Museum at Sutton, West Virginia. (Photo: Sibray / WVExplorer)

SUTTON, W.Va. — Locals know there's a Bigfoot, or several of the creatures, living in the forests of central West Virginia, according to the curator of the West Virginia Bigfoot Museum in Sutton, West Virginia.

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David Petolicchio says that when he established the museum in the town's historic district in 2021, he had only a vague idea of how residents of the Elk River Valley might feel about tales of the monster. But soon after it opened, he found out.

Andrew Smith, director of the nearby Braxton County Monster Museum, investigates a Bigfoot cast.

"There are farmers and hunters who will tell you that they believe in Bigfoot and that they've seen it or heard it or have seen signs of it," Petolicchio said, "and I believe them. These are not crazy people. These are serious people and respected members of the community."

An entrepreneur who moved with his parents to West Virginia to take advantage of its outdoorsy and affordable lifestyle, Petolicchio said he'd grown up visiting the area and had some idea of the mystic quality of the encircling wooded hills. Though the area around Sutton is known for its farmland, it is surrounded on nearly all sides by vast forests.

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Inspired by tales of a Bigfoot that had haunted the region since the 1940s (in which it was ), David and his mother, Laurel, opened the museum in 2021 alongside their downtown shop, , which carries home decor, health and beauty products, apparel, games, and toys.

The museum includes a shop full of a variety of Bigfoot accouterments.

Neither of the Petolicchios believed in the creature, to begin with, but as they heard more and more stories, they began to believe something was out there.

“I didn’t believe in Bigfoot until I started talking to people,” Petolicchio said. “I was not necessarily a fan of Bigfoot. I was interested in cryptids but didn’t actually think Bigfoot was real.”

At about that time, cryptid hunter Les O’Dell was looking for a venue to display his collection of Bigfoot casts, and the two met. Since then, the collection has grown substantially and now features nearly 40 different plaster casts, three rooms full of exhibits, and a shop full of cryptid memorabilia.

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Petolicchio says the museum enjoys continuous traffic and is now the centerpiece of the annual , celebrated in late June.


About the West Virginia Bigfoot Museum

For more information on the museum, visit the .


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