Craig Sulk may be remembered more for what he was associated with than what he did. But it shouldn’t be that way.
He checked all the boxes; giving of his time, his treasure and his talents. He created a safe haven for people to come and discuss a topic that is not exactly universally accepted, but it’s a topic within our universe nonetheless, and his land was a place where they could share their own personal experiences without fear, embarrassment or ridicule.
“He was a jolly person,” said Craig’s wife, Barb. “He made everybody laugh.”
But in November of last year, Craig was diagnosed with a rare, incurable form of thyroid cancer. He died on April 30. He was 59.
“He was known for his sense of humor, and for Bigfoot,” said Barb. “Especially, Bigfoot.”
Craig and Barb led a simple life on their 80 acres of land in Menominee, Mich. They lived in a one-room cabin, both worked part-time jobs, and they loved to hunt.
To increase the odds of hunting success, Craig installed multiple trail cameras on his property. And in 2012, one of his cameras caught something that didn’t appear to exactly be an animal or a human.
Craig was immediately raptured. He was a fan of the show “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet and “Expedition Bigfoot” on the Travel Channel, and he knew what he had to do. He messaged the folks at Animal Planet with what his camera found.
“The very next morning,” said Barb, “they called and said they were coming.”
Craig had captured three shots in succession. The first was blank, the second contained the figure, and the third was blank.
“That was what impressed them the most,” said Barb. “We had the three snapshots.”
Suddenly, Craig’s 15 minutes had arrived. He was on local radio. TV stations came to tell his story, and one was even on hand for the premiere of the Animal Planet episode.
“We were getting phone calls from people who had seen a Bigfoot but never told anybody because people would think they’re crazy,” said Barb.
Which Craig and Barb completely understood.
“He didn’t put it out there until after Animal Planet came out,” said Barb, “because he didn’t want people to think he was crazy.”
This whole thing had become became crazy — crazy fun — so Craig and Barb decided to open their land to anyone and let them come out and examine the spot where the Bigfoot image was seen, and the photos, and judge for themselves.
And that’s how The Hyden Adventure was born.
(Why Hyden? “Because,” said Barb, “they’re always good at hiding.”)
But Barb soon realized The Hyden Adventure became a reason for people to come out of hiding.
“We’ve had people come to The Hyden Adventure, they had never told their story, and their voices were just quivering, and they were just shaking because they had seen one,” said Barb. “And it could have been years ago that they saw this — but they never could talk to anybody about it.
“We used to have people come out there when we opened at 10 a.m. and they would stay until we closed at 4 p.m.”
Barb and Craig decided to do a little bit of advertising, so they set up a booth at local festivals and, wouldn’t you know it, the people came.
“I had a lady come up to me one time, and she was just shaking,” said Barb, “and said that she had to come out and talk to us because she said she can’t get it out of her head that she saw a Bigfoot looking in their camper window."
“And she said, ‘I can still see the baby clinging onto its mother’s side.’ We hear stories like that and you can tell the people are telling the truth. Sure you get stories that are, ‘Sure, OK.’ But you can really tell the people that have seen one because they are - what’s the right word - they’re frightened. It’s almost like a PTSD-type thing that people get. Because they have nobody to talk to and they can’t get it out of their mind.”
It was in 2019 when Barnaby Jones and his mom made their way to They Hyden Adventure.
(And we’ll stop right here a second to clear the air. Jones said he was not named after the 1970s detective show of the same name and, in fact, has never seen a single episode. But, yes, he gets asked about it all the time.)
Anyway, they were driving up the road around when 4 p.m. when they saw Craig and Barb driving toward them.
“Craig gets off the tailgate and comes around and says, ‘Well, we’re just closing,’” said Jones. “I said, ‘Oh, Ok. We’ll turnaround.’ He said, ‘Well, wait. If this is the highlight of your day, the highlight of your trip, we’ll open back up for you.’”
And the next thing Jones knew, Craig and Barb were setting up The Hyden Adventure just for them.
“They have everything covered up for the night; they opened the gift shop back up, everything,” said Jones. “And we stayed there for about three hours with Craig and Barb, the first time we met them. And that’s pretty much the epitome of who Craig was. He’d bend over backward for anybody; it was never about him.”
After their meeting, Jones, who said he’s been intrigued about the paranormal since elementary school, went home and started digging deeper.
“I found some other reports of Bigfoot around the state, and I ended up forming my group CAPS (Cryptids, Anomalies and the Paranormal Society) all because of the day we went and met Craig,” said Jones.
“Now we’re investigating all over the country, doing conventions and conferences, speaking engagements, and none of that would have been possible without meeting Craig.”
And so, indirectly, Craig helped developed another outlet for people to find a safe zone to talk about things they would never otherwise talk about.
“The general reaction that I get when telling someone about doing paranormal or Bigfoot is, first of all, ‘You believe in that stuff?’” said Jones. “I say, ‘Well, yeah, I go and look for it.’ Then they stop and go, ‘Well, I don’t believe in any of that … but this one time.’ And then the stories start coming out.”
“You’re pretty hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had a Bigfoot, paranormal, UFO or some sort of experience. They just don’t like admitting it, or talking about it, until they feel comfortable that they can.”
Barb has a hard time digesting what these last few months have brought.
Their relatively calm life had turned into something they could hardly comprehend practically overnight. Their businesses didn’t bring in a lot of money, but their real reward was the people they met and the stories they heard and the knowledge by simply being there was providing an important service.
They also started a convention — The Marinette-Menominee Bigfoot Convention — and it was growing in popularity.
“It was just so exciting,” she said. “I just feel it’s a dirty, rotten shame that Craig’s dream had to end like this.
“It was an incurable, rare, aggressive cancer and, wouldn’t you know, my Craig had to get it.”
On Saturday, May 22, the Fox Valley-based CAPS group, along with friends and family, will gather at the Elks Lodge in Marinette for a fundraiser for Barb to help cover medical expenses and funeral costs. They will talk about Craig, and they will talk Bigfoot, and perhaps how they can keep Craig’s dream alive. For when you cut everything away, Craig was a guy who developed a secure environment to speak about a subject that thousands of people were fearful to discuss with just anyone. And that’s a good thing.
“I’m just so proud of what he’s made of this whole Bigfoot issue,” said Barb. “I’m just very proud of him.”
Benefit for Craig Sulk
Saturday, May 22, Noon-3 p.m.
Elks Lodge, 430 Bridge St., Marinette, WI
Admission is $5. Gift basket raffle and a 50/50 drawing will be held. Must be present to win.
A GoFundMe page has also been established. For more information, click here.
Story idea? You can reach Mike Woods at 920-246-6321 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org