WHITEHALL — A 1,000-pound Bigfoot in a near full-run on the edge of Route 4, just outside the village of Whitehall on the Vermont side, is getting lots of attention since his unveiling Saturday.
“People have been pulling over and stopping to get a better look,” said Paul Thompson, the owner of Vermont Marble, Granite, Slate & Soapstone Co., who commissioned the sculpture to sit outside his business located in the old Garden Time location. “A school bus just came by and you should see the looks on their (students’) faces.”
The 11-foot, 8-inch steel sculpture supports the long-held belief by many, including several Whitehall locals, that Bigfoot lives in the mountains of Whitehall. And, for years, there have been reported Bigfoot sightings, with some particularly convincing tales detailed in magazines and several documentaries, including the 2016 “Beast of Whitehall.”
Six months ago, Thompson opened his business’ Whitehall location, after a move from Castleton, Vermont, where he had been located for a decade. And that’s when he began learning about the Bigfoot legends and culture of Whitehall.
“We’ve had a few trackers come in here,” he said. “There was a trapper with all his beads and necklaces and feathers. They come from all over. This is the Bigfoot spot on the East Coast.”
What he was hearing sparked an interest and prompted Thompson to emphasize the Bigfoot connection in his business.
“I was going to get an 8-by-4 piece of plywood and make a silhouette of Bigfoot,” he said.
But before Thompson had time to create his own Bigfoot, sculptor Steven Mestyan Sr., of Hampton, and owner of Skelabar Studios, approached Thompson.
“He said, ‘I’ll make it the way you want it,’” Thompson said, adding that Mestyan said he did not have to buy it if he did not like the finished creation. “When I first saw it when he was building it in his garage, I put down a deposit on it.”
Mestyan also created the Bigfoot sculpture at the Skene Valley Country Club.
“I posed for it,” he said about his own sculpture. “I wanted him (Bigfoot) to be running across the street in a full run.”
And now that Bigfoot has settled into his new home at the edge of the village, his metal strips will weather into a patina, Thompson said.
While the bulk of his business is in high-end slate, marble and granite countertops and soapstone stoves and cookware, Thompson has embraced the local lore in a gift section of his business, including Bigfoot T-shirts, carved mugs and parchment maps of “Official Whitehall Bigfoot Sightings.”