Jerry Brillowski was intrigued by what he heard Saturday at Devil’s Lake State Park.
"This was just a real interesting event," said Brillowski, 53, a Baraboo native who now lives in Texas. "As a kid growing up in the 1960s and the 1970s, my father used to take me to what is now called the Old Baraboo Inn. He never mentioned any ghosts being there, but maybe that was his way of protecting me."
Brillowski was one of about 100 people who attended the "Bizarre Baraboo" presentation given by Chad Lewis, a psychologist and a paranormal activity hound from Eau Claire. The event was held at the park’s Northern Lights Amphitheater.
"We live in one heck of a weird state, but I love it," Lewis said.
Lewis chases the unusual and strange, and has traveled around the globe to find it. He said has found most of it right here in the Badger State.
"We have a werewolf running around in Elkhorn. A vampire in Mineral Point," he said. "And then we have these phantom kangaroos that seem to pop up and quickly disappear in Waukesha."
Lewis said a lot of paranormal activity has been documented in Baraboo and its outlying areas.
He spoke of a 10-year-old girl, who, in 1910, saw a creature in the woods covered in fur that followed her home. When the creature’s footprints were checked, its tracks were twice as big as her father’s shoe prints.
Lewis spoke of "strange balls of colored lights" appearing in a Portage cemetery. He also said a woman who appears to be from the late 1800s has been spotted pushing a stroller on the sidewalks in downtown Portage.
"This is the kind of stuff I seek out and enjoy looking for in our state," he said.
In Baraboo there once lived a Ringling Brothers Circus employee who, after taking up residence in a small shack in town, was blamed for kids going missing.
"During the investigation, children’s bones were discovered in a nearby well," Lewis said. "When law enforcement tried taking this man into custody, he committed suicide. And now, today, many years later, people say they hear screams of young children coming from that well."
Lewis also spun the tale of the "vanishing hitchhiker" on U.S. Highway 12.
"I have heard people tell me of a man wearing an old U.S. Army jacket from the 1960s trying to get a ride and when they pass him on the road the people see him again," he said.
He said there is still the tale of a serpent living in Devil’s Lake.
"This tale has been told since the Native Americans were here and it continues today," he said.