Bladenboro Beast Fest could be preempted by hurricane cleanup

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

BLADENBORO — The 2018 Beast Fest is up in the air, if what Bladenboro Commissioners and guests learned last week is true.

“I know there are concerns about the Beast Fest,” Town Clerk Melanie Hester told the commissioners at a called meeting Sept. 25.

The meeting was held to discuss the effects of Hurricane Florence.

“I don’t know that it’s going to be a top priority to have debris removed by then, unless you’re willing to spend an extraordinary amount of money.”

Commissioners approved spending $10,000 for hurricane cleanup, about half of the $21,000 that was spent following 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. The board made no further comment about the festival.

The Beast Fest has been held on the last weekend in October for the last 11 years. This year’s lineup is scheduled to include a guest appearance by Miss North Carolina Laura Matrazzo, a Friday Night Street Dance featuring Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot and entertainment Saturday by the beloved Band of Oz. Food vendors are also popular, including the collard sandwich.

The Beast Fest began in 2006 as an effort to pay homage to the legend of the Beast of Bladenboro. According to lore, a series of vampire-like killings of pets and livestock occurred in 1953. Described by witnesses as a “large cat creature” approximately four to five feet long and by others as a bear-like animal, the creature was reportedly responsible for the killing of numerous dogs, cats and farm animals and was said to have a shrieking and frightening cry.

Though hunting parties were organized to track down the creature, it was never caught, leaving speculation for present day as to whether the story was all a hoax or really happened.

Today, the festival that bears its name is hailed as one of the fastest-growing festivals in southeastern North Carolina, with between 10,000 and 12,000 people attending the two-day event. Thousands normally turn out for New Light Church’s Trunk or Treat event, locally called a festival unto itself and the basis for the number of people seen at the festival in Halloween costumes.

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.