The West Virginia Bigfoot Museum had its grand opening in June, 2021 at the first annual West Virginia Bigfoot Festival in Sutton, West Virginia. The museum’s grand opening and festival was wildly successful garnering approximate 1200-1500 attendees! The museum was organized and launched after the owners of the Mountain Laurel Country Store, Louis and Laurel Petolicchio, learned about sightings, not only in Braxton County, but throughout West Virginia. The Bigfoot legend was further highlighted when a (now famous) six-foot tall, solid hemlock carving of Bigfoot, was delivered to the store by a local carver. This carving drew significant interest and encouraged people to share their personal experiences, or the experiences of friends and family, regarding Bigfoot. It wasn’t long before David Petolicchio (business associate and son of Louis and Laurel Petolicchio) decided that this was a significant point of interest both locally and across the state and thus The West Virginia Bigfoot Museum was born.
David Petolicchio, one of the primary organizers for the museum, has done years of research in cryptozoology and paleontology and has always had an interest in unknown or previously thought extinct animals. David believes that Bigfoot, if it indeed exists, may be a large, intelligent, North American primate and should be a protected species if it can be proven to exist.
The museum currently includes a large collection of original Bigfoot footprint casts from around West Virginia as well as cast copies from around the rest of the United States. The museum also has posters of local and statewide Bigfoot accounts, a compiled binder of Bigfoot sightings, a Bigfoot sightings map, and museum quality replica skulls of an Orangutan, a mountain gorilla, and a Gigantopithecus.
Louis R. Petolicchio and his son David S. Petolicchio founded The West Virginia Bigfoot Museum in 2021, after interacting with numerous eyewitnesses and meeting with West Virginia researcher Les O'Dell. Louis, who is originally from Pennsylvania, moved to Sutton to start a small business, the Mountain Laurel Country Store, with his wife and business partner, Laurel, and one of his sons, David. The subject of cryptozoology has always been an intriguing topic for Mr. Petolicchio, and he fostered this interest along with the rest of his family. Once he saw an opportunity to delve into a fascinating subject and promote the community, he made the easy decision to open the first-ever West Virginia Bigfoot Museum. Louis wrote much of the museum's content and even authored a book that compiles historic Bigfoot accounts from around Appalachia. Unfortunately, in 2022, Louis R. Petolicchio passed away suddenly, leaving the museum as one of his many successful projects. It continues to thrive and grow, in no small part due to his hard work and professionalism
David S. Petolicchio originally conceived the idea of the West Virginia Bigfoot Museum in the winter of 2021, recognizing a need for the community to have a tourism draw and a unifying subject matter for the region. David has been interested in cryptozoology his entire life and has found the subject of unknown wildlife to be incredibly fascinating. Although David has an educational background in criminal psychology and abnormal psychology, he has studied cryptozoology, paleontology, and primatology as a side interest for over a decade. David briefly managed a social media page about the subject of cryptozoology called the Center for Unidentified Species and Phenomena (CUSP), which promoted relevant information and articles about cryptozoology.
Today, David continues to manage the museum and determine what displays and information are available. He hopes to provide valuable and accurate information about Bigfoot while also serving as a free resource to educate the general public about Bigfoot, cryptozoology, paleontology, and primatology.
Les Odell first met Louis and David Petolicchio in 2021 when he visited the Mountain Laurel Country Store and struck up a conversation about Bigfoot sightings in the state of West Virginia. From there, Les built a good working relationship with Louis and David, and brought in his own collection of Bigfoot footprint casts that are now on display in the museum. Les is one of the founders of West Virginia Cryptids and Strange Encounters (WVCASE) and has been involved in countless expeditions. He has also been featured in podcasts, TV shows, and manages his own YouTube channel. Les is extremely down-to-earth, easy to communicate with, and has gained a lot of respect in the cryptid community in West Virginia. In 2021, Les published a book called "West Virginia Cryptids: A Visual Travel Guide for Traversing the Mountain State," featuring artwork by Mark A. Randall.
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