The Two-Toed Tom Festival is an unusual celebration in that it honors an infamous killer “demon” alligator.
Two-Toed Tom was a massive 18-foot-long alligator that roamed the lakes and swamps around the Alabama-Florida state line in the early 1900s. “Old Tom” as some called him was known to kill cattle, livestock, and even people. According to tales he could never be caught, but farmers always knew his “work” by his distinctive tracks. One of Tom’s feet had been caught in a steel trap removing all but two toes.
In the 1910’s Tom (possibly fleeing a vengeful lynch mob) moved to Esto and set up residence in Sand Hammock, a 75-acre lake near town. Citizens of the time reported seeing the gator’s distinctive tracks, as well as many missing animals. The old reptile would bellow in response to the steam whistle at the local sawmill.
Since then Tom’s tracks have been reported occasionally, appearing as far as 40 miles away on Boynton Island on the Choctawhatchee River in the 1970s.
The Two-Toed Tom Festival first began in Esto in 1987.