BLADENBORO – The legendary Bladenboro Beast may have been the center of attention, but the cabbage sandwich turned out to be the Bladenboro party when Beast Fest returns on Saturday.
The line of people waiting to buy one of the sandwiches or a chicken bog bowl stretched roughly the distance of a basketball court in the Lumbee Homemade Ice Cream tent set up in the city center .
âThere’s nothing not to like,â Christie Bullard, 46, said of the cabbage sandwich. She had two, including one for her husband Heath Bullard, wrapped in foil.
âIf you’re a southerner, a good cabbage sandwich and a piece of cornbread is hard to beat,â she said with a sparkling eye. “It’s not Beast Fest if you don’t eat cabbage sandwich.”
They would secure a seat on a bench outside Lolli’s On Main along Main Street where they ate what became a signature food raffle at the event.
“No chain,” remarked Heath Bullard, 48, before taking another bite of the crispy cornbread and collard greens sandwich.
After a year-long absence due to COVID-19 issues, the 14th incarnation of Boost the ‘Boro’s Beast Fest has drawn thousands of festival-goers to the city center.
Bladenboro, which has suffered greatly over the past five years with destruction and flooding from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence, came back to life on the second and final day of the festival on Saturday. Residents and visitors from out of town wandered around the area on a beautiful late October day, admiring the lines of classic cars and the multitude of arts and crafts goods on display.
There were rides for the kids, stage shows, and lots of food available from mobile food trucks and the like.
The featured entertainment – Gary Lowder & Smokin ‘Hot, a soulful outfit from Myrtle Beach – hit the festival stage on Saturday night.
âIt’s family oriented. You can hang out with your family, âsaid Anthony Meares, 48, after taking a family photo with a Godzilla-sized Smokey Bear. “You can see people that you haven’t seen for a long time.”
“And the cabbage sandwich,” brooke, his wife.
âCabbage sandwich!â he repeated with a smile.
âWe come every year,â said Brooke Meares, who is 30.
Four-year-old Tinley was accompanying Clarkton’s family.
Glenn Hunt, 68, of Pembroke, led the 15-member team working in the Lumbee Ice Cream Tent. He said he had no idea how many cabbage sandwiches he would sell on Saturday, adding, “I don’t want to lie.”
On the spot, the vegetables were boiled in huge pots and the cornbread was fried. Hunt thought he brought 118 gallons of greens and 150 pounds of Pembroke cornbread.
It has been written that the cabbage sandwich was created by members of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina.
Here at Hunt’s booth, the sandwiches were $ 6 apiece.
A few other vendors, including Rene’s Collard Sandwich stand next door, sold the sandwiches. The Wing Parade featured cabbage wraps, a variation of the sandwich with greens filling the inside of an egg roll shell with turkey or bacon.
âHe’s one of our biggest sellers,â said Jeffrey Williamson, 62, of Nakina, who was spinning giant smoked turkey thighs on a grill.
Why is the colard green fare so popular at this street fair?
Even Popeye couldn’t have enough children to eat their spinach.
âWell I think it’s the flavor,â Hunt said. âGreens are good for you. Sometimes you put in a little sugar to remove the bitter taste from them. The perfume a little. “
The official Beast Fest mascot took the tour. Unlike the colorful Disney characters at Walt Disney World, this sweet pet peeve of an icon spokeâ¦ with a thick southern accent.
Festival director Charles Ray Peterson, who also sits on the Bladen County Board of Commissioners, said the festival is important to the city because âit brings people together. It brings the community together. “
Peterson, 68, is a Bladenboro native who has said he loves his town.
âWe collect funds that go directly back to the city. Anywhere there is a need, âhe said after hopping off a golf cart on Main Street. âIt is important that we raise funds and that the money goes back to the community.
Peterson said, âIt’s already bigger than it was in the past. This whole parking lot is full of vendors. COVID hit us last year, and we haven’t had it. But there are several thousand people here now.
It was just after noon.
The line was still long in front of the Lumbee Homemade Ice Cream stand, where collard greens and fried cornbread drove sales up.
“It’s the first time I’ve been here,” said Lee McKoy, 63, of Dublin, between sips of a Sun Drop soda. âI’ve heard so much about it. I like old cars. Guess what I just ate? A cabbage sandwich. They are known for their cabbage sandwich.
This story is written by Michael Futch of the Bladen Journal. Contact him at 910-670-1842 or [email protected]