By: Charlotte Smith
Bladenboro Middle School students received an experience to last a life time with the appearance and apprehension of the Beast of Bladenboro Wednesday afternoon. The 5th and 6th grade classes learned about the Beast of Bladenboro from Vice President of Boost the Boro, Shane Todd.
The annual celebration of the Beast Fest, started in large part by Hiram Hester, is this weekend. The school officials along with the Boost of Boro group wanted to help educate the students on how the Best Fest was started and what the history is behind the festival.
Todd presented the documentary, “Vampire Beast of Bladenboro”, about the beast to those in attendance. It is said the beast started in Bladenboro, crushing skulls and sucking the blood of dogs and goats back in 1953.
According to some locals, the killings happened nearly 200 miles apart, stretching from Bladenboro to Charlotte areas. Some people said the beast was living in the swamp.
The looks of the beast were described as having dark brown hair and about being 4 1/2 feet long, it’s appearance seemed to be a cross between a cat and a dog with vampire teeth according to folks in the area.
Back on January 6th, 1954, 21 year old, CE Kinlaw said she saw the beast, which according to history, made Bladenboro a popular spot for hunters looking to slay the beast. Roy Forbes, Chief of Police at the time, started an investigation on it and then Mayor Fussell announced to everyone the beast would be captured.
Todd told the students back then Bladenboro’s population was around 1,000 residents. He then said around 700 people came from other areas to hunt for the wild animal and caused the town officials to be concerned.
Therefore, Mayor Fussell, Chief Forbes and town citizen Berry Lewis (grandfather of current Beast Festival organizer, Berry Lewis) came up with an idea to make some of the tourist leave town. Lewis had killed a large cat on a hunt, so the men took the animal and hung it on a flag pole in town and announced the beast had been killed.
However, the documentary the students watched reported suspicions of the beast still being alive. Dogs and goats being killed in Beast of Bladenboro fashion have been reported recently in Bladenboro, Bolivia and Lexington.
When asked if the he believed the Beast was still alive, Todd said, “I believe without a doubt he is still alive.” Todd told a story of something similar happening to one of his dogs not too long ago.
As the presentation closed, Todd reminded the students of the late, Hiram Hester, a local business owner, who took the history of the Beast of Bladenboro and helped the economy of the town with the Beast Fest.
As the students listened there was a loud bang on the wall. Bladenboro Police Chief entered the classroom to let the students know he had been trying to find the “Beast” that had been sited at the school.
Then all at once there was the Beast, smiling and greeting the kids. Chief Hunt grabbed the huge animal and drug him out of the class saying, “Beast of Bladenboro, what are you doing here? You know you aren’t suppose to be here until Saturday. View the scene on our YouTube Channel, or watch it now.
The annual Beast Fest will start with carnival rides this Friday night, a Fun Run 5K Saturday morning, followed by the festival beginning at 10 am and lasting until 11 pm Saturday evening.
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