Whether you believe he's real or not, the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp now has a festival named after him.
The scaly creature was allegedly first spotted in the swamp near Bishopville in 1988. Three years ago, a man said he spotted the Lizard Man when “something came out of the woods and ran across the Scape Ore Bridge.”
“It was a tall, dark figure that had a tail and appeared to have scales,” said Jim Wilson. “It was almost like an alligator with a short nose and long legs.”
While nobody has captured the 7-foot creature, the Lizard Man will be celebrated this weekend in Bishopville with his own festival.
Whether this elusive creature actually makes an appearance will be anybody's guess. Folks are being encouraged to dress up as their favorite sci-fi or fantasy figure — a practice known as cosplay — so the real Lizard Man will have plenty of cover, should he choose to show up.
John Stamey, the organizer of Lizard Man weekend, also runs the Tennessee Bigfoot Conference and several comic conventions throughout the Southeast. "I've always had an interest in UFOs and things of that nature," he explains, so a festival dedicated to the local legend seems almost natural.
"This celebrates the folklore of South Carolina," says Stamey, and that's important because it's a significant part of the community's culture.
Also on the slate are: Lyle Blackburn, author of such books as "The Beast of Boggy Creek" and "Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster;" WCW legend Papa Stro Maestro; Matthew Delph, a Bigfoot researcher and head of MECRO (Mountain Empire Cryptid Research Organization) and co-author of "Lizardman, Bigfoot and Friends" with Stamey; cosplay artist and director/producer of the award-winning internet series "Dusk" Ronald Rossman; and more.
Most events — talks on the paranormal and supernatural, meet-and-greets and such — will be held at the Cotton Museum, 121 W. Cedar Lane in Bishopville, with music at the Button King Museum at 53 Joe Dority Road on Saturday evening.
Here's your chance to tour the Lizard Man's swampy home (just in case the real guy is shy, Lizard Man will have a stand-in for photos and selfies), check out the comic-con and cosplay events and release your inner reptile.
For more more information and event schedule, visit at lizardmanfestival.com.