HASTINGS, Neb. — Skeptics and believers alike can learn more about Bigfoot thanks to a new museum.

The Crossroads of America Bigfoot Museum in Hastings hosted its grand opening Wednesday morning. Harriett McFeely, the museum’s owner, said she became interested in Bigfoot after seeing footprints on Mount Everest on TV.

“I was 8 years old and they showed pictures on TV of these footprints that the Himalayan natives called ‘yeti.’ I saw those pictures and never doubted it,” McFeely said. “At that time, that was when I got interested in science. I have been interested in science my whole life. I studied on my own for years. Then, in 1967, Patty walked down Bluff Creek, everybody saw that and I was hooked for life.”

She said she got the idea for the Bigfoot Museum after looking at her dining room table cluttered with Bigfoot artifacts.

“I couldn’t see it. Just about everything that is in this museum I have had in my dining room,” McFeely said. “There were pictures, footprints and everything; it was driving me crazy. I have gone out to different places and given talks. I always take different things I know about to groups. I thought it would be so much fun for people to see that.”

She said she started looking for a site for a museum to house the artifacts and did not have any luck finding a location due to the sites either being too big, too small or too costly. Finally, one day, a friend suggested that she use a small corner of her house, previously used for wedding receptions, as a museum.

“What is the museum now used to be one giant room and I would cook the rehearsal dinner. I had room for 50 people to sit down and eat. Then, I later divided it up and made the walls. So I thought, ‘There is my museum,’ ” McFeely said.

The artifacts housed at the Bigfoot Museum include three 2,000-year-old skulls, Bigfoot hand castings and a picture of Bigfoot “Patty” famously walking across Bluff Creek in 1967. McFeely said she also received hand castings from Cliff Barackman of the Animal Planet TV show “Finding Bigfoot.”

She said she “picked up” a lot of the artifacts in her museum over the years, but people have given her some items as well.

“When we are out ‘squatching,’ you have two things. You look down all the time and you listen to the animals, so I found a lot of things,” McFeely said. “If you go inside the museum, you’ll see a ‘killing field.’ Bigfoots, when they kill an animal, will eat it and toss the bones. Every once in a while, you will find a killing field. They just toss them over there. I just borrowed a few bones from the killing field and brought them home.”

McFeely said she realizes that some people are skeptical about the existence of Bigfoot, but she still welcomes them to her museum.

“I like the skeptics because they ask really good questions and make you think, which is good,” she said. “In all this time, I have only had one skeptic that was really nasty.”

The cost to visit the Crossroads of America Bigfoot Museum is $5. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays.

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