Strangest State: December 2018

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

Drue Wagner

DAINGERFIELD // The hunt for Bigfoot continues at Daingerfield State Park, where rangers held a weekend of events dedicated to the mythical forest giant. The Longview News-Journal reports that campers gathered for a screening of the 1972 film The Legend of Boggy Creek, posed for photos with a Bigfoot cutout and trekked through the pines on a “Searchin’ for Bigfoot” nighttime hike. The elusive creature failed to show itself, but that didn’t stop attendees from celebrating by dancing to oldies tunes piped through the park’s vintage jukebox.

SAN ANTONIO // How many snakes is too many? Surely fewer than 136. That’s the number of pythons San Antonio Animal Care Services officers confiscated from a two-bedroom home on the city’s south side — along with their food source, 415 rats and mice. The San Antonio Express-News notes that as the reptiles were being carried out in bags, “several people drove by and stopped to ask responders if they could purchase the snakes.” The immediate answer was no, though depending on what a judge decides, they may end up being offered for adoption. We suspect the rodents met a worse fate.

GRAHAM // More than 30 chainsaw artists set up shop along three city blocks for the weekend-long Southern States Chainsaw Carving Championship, which was promptly changed from a competition to a friendly “rendezvous” after a scheduled wood delivery failed to arrive. Nonetheless, carvers brought their own timber and buzzed up a storm. “I have never had high blood pressure since doing this,” participant Rob Banda told KCAU as he put the finishing touches on a large owl.

OATMEAL // Oatmeal tends not to attract the rabid fan base of, say, tacos or barbecue, but for one glorious weekend the lowly oat takes center stage. We’re referring to the annual Oatmeal Festival, held for the 39th time this September in the sister cities of Oatmeal and Bertram. According to the Burnet Bulletin, 33 pageant contestants vied for the titles of Miss Oatmeal and Mr. Groaty Oats. The wholesome revelry also included a parade, a scavenger hunt, costumed oat and sugar mascots, something called the Goat Pill Pop-Off and of course, “the famous oatmeal-eating contest.”

Marshala Perkins
Marshala Perkins  Hunt County Sheriff's Office

DALLAS  // A Dallas woman’s arrest turned into a career opportunity thanks to her on-point makeup. After Marshala Perkins, 19, was charged with marijuana possession, a Twitter account called @MugshotBaes shared her mug shot, in which Perkins sports pink glittery eyeshadow and voluminous mascara. Other women asked for makeup tutorials, which she now provides to her thousands of Instagram, YouTube and Twitter followers. “My phone started going crazy,” Perkins told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I was still kind of embarrassed … [but] when I started reading the comments I was like, besides me being in jail people are really noticing my talent and what I can do.”

LIVINGSTON // Livingston Mayor Judy B. Cochran bagged a 12-foot alligator — the same creature, she believes, that ate her miniature horse a few years ago. “Typically the gators don’t bother us, but we’ve been looking for [this one],” Cochran told the Houston Chronicle. Cochran, who recently became a great-grandmother, used a seasoned raccoon to attract the 580-pound animal to her pond, where she shot it. She plans to mount its tail in her office and make several pairs of boots from its hide.

FREEPORT // After two pallets of bananas went unclaimed on the docks, port officials donated them to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Prison staff from the nearby Scott Unit were loading the 45 large boxes to take back to inmates when they realized “one of the boxes felt different,” according to a TDCJ Facebook post. The guards looked inside and found cocaine — 540 packs worth nearly $18 million. An investigation is ongoing.

Visit texasobserver.org/strangest-state for more “Strangest State” and links to original stories. Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at [email protected].

Rose Cahalan is managing editor at the Observer and also edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage.

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