How would you call a Sasquatch?

The 84th annual Lake County Fair debuted its first Sasquatch calling contest on Friday night. Participants ranged in age from 5 to 52 as they gave their best shot at what they imagined sounded like a call for the mighty Big Foot.

“We wanted to do something that would encourage maximum participation,” said Matt Campbell, superintendent of live competitions. “We figured on a Friday night, on the main stage, it's getting a little late, people are loosening up a little bit, they would go for that.”

And they did. The calls varied from low growls to high-pitched shrieks. Eight-year-old David Peters outsmarted his competition as he set out his lasso and beef jerky and called, “Here, little bugger!” Another contestant was clever enough to pull out his cellphone and dial the beast.

“Wait, he's answering! Is it? Oh, no, he's not. It's going to voice mail,” he said.

Even the Junior Miss Lake County Teaghan Callaway, 13, graced the competition.

“I mean, hey, I'm the queen; he has to come — it's his order,” Callaway said with a smirk.

But the winning call took the stage, or rather, brought the hairy giant to the stage. Duane Beelow, 52, a Mundelein farmer, turned his yellow baseball hat around, stood with his legs apart, took a deep breath and yelled a peculiar noise into the mic, bending his entire body backward with the effort.

On winning the competition and a Char-Broil grill, donated by Miller Brewing Co., Beelow said “Oh, yeah, I wanted this so bad ... I waited all year to do this.”

“My call was part pig, part mongoose and part elephant, and that's what I thought Sasquatch would come to,” he said.

Sasquatch, who was played by Lake County Fair Association director-at-large Jon Brodzik Jr., came to clobber Beelow as he made his final call, to the surprise and delight of a cheering audience.

“It was just something totally different, unique,” Brodzik Jr. said. “Something different is what makes you stand out.”

For the Lake County Fair Association planning team, it wasn't about the crazy calls, or the ape-like costume, it was about the memories.

“Having that guy run up onstage, it was six months in the planning ... and it took five seconds for him to run up there,” Campbell said. “All of that five seconds was worth those six months because those kids up there, they got up there and did that, they'll remember that. People that were here to watch that thing onstage, they'll remember that, and I think that's really, in my mind, what community events and community experiences are about, giving you just a little slice of life to take with you — and I think we did that.”

  Eight-year-old David Peters of Wonder Lake takes out a pouch of beef jerky to help with his Sasquatch call at the Lake County Fair on Friday. Joel Bissell/
  Matt Campbell, the organizer of “Pioneer Days,” prepares the audience for the Sasquatch calling competition at the Lake County Fair on Friday. Joel Bissell/
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