The Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater Texas

Downtown Abilene
Downtown Abilene
Front gate at Dyess Air Force Base.
Front gate at Dyess Air Force Base.

It All Started In Abilene Texas

Between the years 1994-2007, I lived in Abilene Texas and it was an interesting experience. Abilene is not a big town, but its not as small as it used to be either. The population is about 100,000 now and it’s definitely growing with business’s booming all around.

Abilene is home to Dyess Air Force Base, and you could say that it is the driving force behind the success of Abilene, as there is a huge military population. Abilene treats its military with much respect.

There are a couple of large Christian Universities in Abilene and people from all over the U.S come to Abilene to go to these schools because of their fine reputations such as, McMurry University, Abilene Christian University and Hardin Simmons University.

When I first learned of The Rattlesnake Roundup, I had not a clue of what it was, I had never been to such an event and my ex-husband assured me that I would enjoy it. For many years I refused to go and so my ex-husband would go without me, as he thrived on festivals such as this. The event is held in a nearby town named Sweetwater, Texas, and it is a quaint little town out in west Texas and it looks very desert like and extremely hot, boy is it hot there.

A markerAbilene Texas -
Abilene, TX, USA
[get directions]

Sweetwater Texas

 

Sweetwater is in the Nolan County area and has a population of about 11,000. It is also the home of the Avenger Field. During WWII, The Women Air force Service Pilots were trained there, and after the end of the war the airstrip was closed and the women were not recognized for having served there. Then in 1977, General Hap Arnold, son of Colonel Bruce Arnold, persisted in getting these women the recognition they deserved and now the field is the site of the Texas State Technical College.

Sweetwater is also known for its wind turbines which really are interesting to see, and have created many jobs for Sweetwater and Abilene residents as well. It is referred to as the “Wind Turbine Capital of Texas“

Wind Turbine in Sweetwater
Wind Turbine in Sweetwater
Night sky
Night sky
Aerial view of Sweetwater
Aerial view of Sweetwater

The Jaycees.

The Jaycees is a civic organization that provides training for men and women between the ages of 18-41. Some areas of training are business management, development, community service, and international connections. It is a non-profit organization, that has been involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Organization, and March of Dimes. They have built playground for kids, parks, ball fields, hospitals and housing for the elderly. They are very well respected in Sweetwater, and sponser the Rattlesnake Roundup every year.

A markerNolan County Coliseum Sweetwater Texas -
Sweetwater, TX 79556, USA
[get directions]

The Rattlesnake Roundup

The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup started in 1958 and is the largest Rattlesnake Roundup in the United States, sponsored by the Jaycees, and is held every second week in March annually and is located at the Nolan County Coliseum.

The Rattlesnake Roundup is one of those events that you either love or hate, the first time that I finally attended this event I think I was in a state of shock. I am from Texas, and have gone to my share of rodeos and festivals, but the roundup was something that I wasn’t expecting, that’s not to say that everyone wouldn’t like it, because the people from Texas come out in droves to see this spectacular event each year.

Outside the event you will see thousands of people walking around looking at all the vendors who come out from all over to sell their goods. They have all kinds of food out there, such as the best BBQ you will find in Texas, and a chili cook off, as well as all kinds of arts and crafts for sale. Lots of stuff made out of rattlesnake of course. And their specialty deep fried rattlesnake.

They also have the Rattlesnake Parade through the town of Sweetwater to start off the events, and they also crown Miss Snake Charmer in their pageant

Chili Cookoff
Chili Cookoff
A Hotdog Anyone?
A Hotdog Anyone?
Miss Snake Charmer 2006
Miss Snake Charmer 2006
Fried Rattlesnake
Fried Rattlesnake
Smoking BBQ ribs
Smoking BBQ ribs

Who Would Go to Such and Event?

Well you certainly wont find any snake lovers at this event judging from what they do to these snakes, as they are skinned and deep fried, and if you are scared of snakes, you are going to see thousands of snakes at this event. Of course all the rattlesnakes are contained, but it certainly is an amazing thing to see so many snakes in one place.

They have events such as the weigh-in for the largest rattler found, as well as the snake handling event. But if you are like me I went for the chili cook off and the brisket. Although I did enjoy the event for its outdoors activities, there are so many friendly people in Sweetwater; and the items for sale were very interesting as well.

I found some of the events inside the coliseum a little upsetting, such as the skinning of the snakes, as I had never witnessed this before. The huge snake pits where there are thousands of snakes was a little intimidating, and I feared for the guy inside the pit handling the snakes, but he didn’t have any trouble and he didn’t seem scared either. There is also the show where they remove the venom from the snakes. I just found it kind of disconcerting when you see these men dressed in butchers aprons that are covered in blood, skinning these snakes, and the smell in the whole place was a bit overwhelming..

I would have to say that it is an event that a person has to see for themselves to form an opinion, but if you like this sort of thing, then it is an event you wont soon forget that is for sure.

Although this event has been criticized for animal cruelty, the event claims that they got started in 1958 because of the overwhelming amount of snakes in the area, but there is also the criticism that events such as these results in decline of the rattlesnake population, and therefore resulting in ecological consequences such as for the animals that they feed upon.

Rattlers

The Diamondback rattler can be longer than seven feet in length and is the biggest of 20+ species and sub-species of Southwestern desert rattlers. Rattlers belong to a class of 100+ species of poisonous snakes generally called pit vipers.

Rattlesnakes can be a problem to ranchers, hunters, campers, hikers and anyone else who wants to enjoy the outdoors. For this reason, rattlesnake round ups began as a way to control the snake population.

The Coliseum where the roundup takes place.
The Coliseum where the roundup takes place.
Children looking in a pit of rattlers.
Children looking in a pit of rattlers.
This is where they were skinning snakes.
This is where they were skinning snakes.
Showing off a prize snake.
Showing off a prize snake.
Stuffed snakes for sale.
Stuffed snakes for sale.
Inside coliseum.
Inside coliseum.
Outside carnival at event.
Outside carnival at event.
An old section of Sweetwater.
An old section of Sweetwater.

More by this Author


Comments 22 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

I am not visiting this rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater, Texas no matter how delectable those award-winning barbecue ribs might be.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

I don't blame you drbj but it is interesting. Cheers.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

I really don't like snakes and won't be attending either, but it was an interesting hub.


rose56 profile image

rose56 6 years ago

Very unique hub. And interesting way to rid of the snakes. Good job.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Pamela I don't blame you...cheers.

Rose56 thanks for reading and the compliment. Cheers.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

I regret turning down the opportunity to taste snake in Taiwan and if I were to visit this place, I would certainly correct the omission! :-)


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

De Greek well you are certainly braver than I am then because they didn't look all too tasty to me lol. Thanks for visiting. Cheers.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

Good gracious, I am all goose-flesh over here! Sweetwater looks like the town I’m living in. We also have our annual festivals, but, fortunately, not a Rattlesnake Parade. It is, however, a creative fight against a snake plague, although it may easily become cruel in favor of capitalism and tourism. Some legislation has to prevent this. I’ve never eaten snakes in my life, and I will surely not be able to eat one when it lands on my plate. This was a very interesting, creepy and hair-raising hub! Thanks!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Martie thanks for the read, I agree with you I never tasted the rattlesnake just couldn't do it. But it was interesting to say the least...cheers.


geegee77 profile image

geegee77 6 years ago from The Lone Star State!!

Looks very interesting all the festivities except for the rattlers ugh great hub:)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

What a strange event! Thanks for sharing it- I love the photos! Hahaa- though when I first saw the chili bakeoff picture, I balked and thought it was some sort of rattlesnake stew!! This would be VERY fun to see in person.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

thanks geegee it was fun but I steered clear of the snakes. Cheers.

Simone it is a strange event but one that they have been doing since the 50's and people go nuts for this stuff there in that part of Texas. Thanks for reading cheers.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Wonderful hub - great writing and terrific pictures. However, I will never be able to bring myself to attend this featival. I am terrified of snakes. It sure does sound interestin though.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

thanks KoffeKlatch Im glad you liked this hub. Im afraid of snakes as well but the outdoor activities were worth going. Cheers.


Whidbeywriter profile image

Whidbeywriter 6 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

Great hub, but I have one question, they didn't skin those rattlers alive did they? I do not like snakes so I probably wouldn't attend that event. You are awesome - once again a winner here. Cheers!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

whidbeywriter it wasn't an event that I wouldve normally gone to but it was interesting to say the least, I dont think that the snake were alive while they were skinned as they were not moving at all while on those barbaric hooks but it was still very nauseating lol thanks for reading. Cheers.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I won't make any jokes at all about that young lady being a "snake charmer". I just won't do it. I have too much class. Don't I?

I was married to a rattlesnake once though.

I voted for a couple.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Hey Micky at least you were only married to one, I was married to two...lol thanks for stopping by. Cheers.


Bootneck profile image

Bootneck 6 years ago from Cyprus and China

I never cease to wonder at the difference between the American and the British way of life. You guys have a snake round up, whilst in Britain, once a year, hundreds flock to a very steep hill, then somebody rolls a cheese down it, signalling a mad charge to see who can get to it first at the bottom. - Almost as exciting as our national dance, Morris-dancing!! You have to see it to believe it.

Anyway, loved the article, and some of the comments, as well as your retorts.

An enjoyable read thank you.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Bootneck thanks for reading, your cheese event sounds interesting as well. It is funny how different Americans are as opposed to Europeans although we are talking about Texas here and that is a whole other country. Cheers.


John Lindquist 5 years ago

JohnLindquist@escapees.com

I can't find any Vender information, HELP

John


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 5 years ago from Texas Author

John thanks for reading and commenting. I found this number the next roundup is in March so you should call soon if you want to be involved. Here is the number they should be able to give you all the info from there.

(915) 235-5488 Cheers.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working