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Festival in Round Rock resurrects the legend of the Hairy Man

A hairy man walks past a table of people laughing.
Courtesy of Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District
A contestant in the Hairiest Man contest walks past judges during the festival in 2017.

Legend has it that back in the 19th century, a hairy hermit who hated people traveling on “his road” would attack the covered wagons and travelers who dared to enter his realm in what is now Round Rock.

The most common telling of the legend recalls that as a young boy, the hermit — now called Hairy Man — was part of a settlers’ caravan traveling in the area. While the group was trying to escape the rising waters of a creek one stormy night, he fell and was abandoned – the others too afraid to turn back.

The boy grew up in the nearby woods, the story goes, wild and furious at the travelers who left him behind. He took his anger out on anyone unfortunate enough to cross his road – swinging on vines or tree branches to scratch the tops of caravans with his long toenails. He’d screech and do pretty much anything to make passersby as terrified as he was the night he was abandoned.

Even today, people report unnerving encounters on what’s now Hairy Man Road. Katerina Morrow said she almost hit a large, dark figure with her car while driving home with a friend one night.

“We were terrified,” she said. “He was suspiciously shadowy even with our headlights shining on him.”

Morrow said she believes it might have been Hairy Man himself.

“We definitely decided it was more paranormal [and] spooky than not,” she said.

Some say Hairy Man was trampled by horses during an attempt to scare a horse-drawn caravan. Others say he accidentally hanged himself while swinging on a vine. Still others say he drowned in the creek during a flood.

Two details are the same in every version of the story: His body was never found and his spirit never left the road.

“They say ever since that day, when you're driving along Hairy Man Road in the dark, if you open your windows, you can hear howling and screaming and railing and ranting,” Gwen King, a local historian, said. “And I'm telling you from my own opinion, I hear it.”

The tale of the hairy hermit will be told Saturday at Round Rock’s annual Hairy Man Festival at Cat Hollow Park. The festival will include live music performances, food vendors, Halloween-themed craft booths and carnival games. Festival-goers are also invited to compete in three contests: the Chili Contest, Costume Contest and Hairiest Man Contest.

The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s free, but organizers suggest attendees bring two non-perishable food items for donation or $2 per person. All donations will go to the Round Rock Area Serving Center.

Sloane Wick is an intern for KUT.

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