Things You Must Not Do if You Attend a Rattlesnake Round Up
Say hello to Mr. J.P. Jones
Mr. J.P. Jones, a citizen of the prestigious Alabama city, Opp, which was named after Henry Opp, a lawyer of German birth employed by the L & N Railroad, had an idea one sunny summer afternoon. An idea that was so controversial for the time, Jones almost kept this near-taboo secret to himself.
Granted, Jones' idea would shake things up in Opp, a quiet, conservative town north of Montgomery, the capital of Alabama. And also granted, Jones' idea would do one of two things: one, succeed with a meteoric-style or two, die like a mad dog in the dirt. But J.P. Jones had something going for him: faith. And it would take all of his faith to see this idea come to fruition.
After a considerable amount of thought, Jones approached the Opp Jaycees and with a sackful of Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes, the Opp, Alabama Rattlesnake Rodeo was born. Jones' idea was strange. As well as dangerous, but since its inception over 54 years ago, this event has been the main attraction for this small-but-progressive town that lies due north of Montgomery.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley
Note: Although I begged my former editor, Les Walters, who runs the Journal Record newspaper in my hometown, Hamilton, Ala., to take me to one of these rodeo's since he was born and raised in the vicinity of Opp, Alabama, Adalusia and chased girls from Red Level, Lavurne and Beaver Falls, but our plans never came true. Walters said once, "as much as you like to eat, you can even buy fried rattlesnake--as much as you want," and with his sharp sense of practical jokery, I laughed. But I found out (and my video of this event proves it) you can actually buy fried rattlesnake at the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo.
All this at a rattlesnake round-up?
As I understand it, this event, Opp's Rattlesnake Rodeo has swiftly-grown to include other activities that include: beauty pageants, the Rattlin' 100 held at the South Alabama Speedway, snake races, buck-dancing contests, children's activities, karoke contests, musical entertainment, and the most popular attraction, The Rattlin' Country Concert featuring Artists from Nashville and bands, and Opp's local groups. The Rattlin' Country Concert was a crowd-favorite from the beginning. With all the activities scheduled throughout each day, and for the years ahead, Mr. J.P. Jones and the Opp Jaycees can smile with pride at the idea that came from Mr. J.P. Jones and a few Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes.
Celebrities from Opp, Alabama
I am sad for not going to the rattlesnake round-up
Walters told me a bit of history about this yearly-event. He stated that the Opp Jaycees take one weekend to do nothing but catch as many rattlers as humanly-possible. They use some for live safety demonstations and some to cook and sell. Of course, vendors of all shapes, sizes and wares show-up the night before this huge event to set-up their booths and get ready to make money from a variety of rattlesnake-related items such as hatbands, boots, rattlers, and other rattlesnake-based items.
After my talk with Walters, I sat at my desk that afternoon and dwelled on the Rattlesnake Rodeo and how "I" would fare if Walters did come through and allow me attend this weekend event with him. Then my careful mind started thinking about me attending something that featured deadly rattlesnakes. I confess. I grew nauseated. Sweat droplets formed on my head. To calm myself, I wrote the list below entitled:
Things You Must Not Do if You Attend a Rattlesnake Round Up
- Jump fearlessly into a demonstration pit where the rattlesnakes are used for teaching safety produres and run around the pit yelling, "I am such a man that you can't lay a fang in me."
- Try to handle a couple of rattlers and end-up dropping them into a crowd of spectators with one being a sharp Alabama lawyer whose speciality is filing lawsuits against people who do such stupid things.
- Brag to the event staff that you are gifted to "eat a live rattlesnake" raw which gets you bitten.
- Get on your all-four's in another rattlesnake demonstration pit and act as if you are a Doberman and barking at the snakes who are now in a frenzy and ready to strike. (The crowds love it and laugh at you until they cry).
- Pay a rattlesnake round-up event staff member to hand you a rattler by the tail and you frantically handing it to one of the beauty pageant contestants causing her to be out cold by fainting.
- Using a bull-horn to get a crowd gather and start giving them false information about you being a "Rattler Expert," who is a personal friend of Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and one person in your crowd REALLY is a rattler expert and embarasses you with his sharp remarks.
- Barging your way backstage to make points with the pretty Rattlesnake Round-up Pageant contestants and the security staff tosses you out by your trousers.
- Getting into a needless argument with an Opp citizen trying to convince this elderly woman that you started this yearly-event. Too bad you're trying to convince Mr. J.P. Jones' first-cousin who slices you to bits with her sharp criticisms.
- If perhaps a state official should attend this event and starts to make a few remarks, you heckling causes him, Gov. Robert Bentley, a degree of embarrassment which gets you told to banned forever from this event.
- When an event staffer starts to teach people how to avoid being bitten by a rattlesnake, your vision is hampered by an overweight guy, so you push this guy from the bleachers, but not realizing that his first-cousin, former NWA Heavyweight Wrestling Champ, Dusty Rhodes is sitting in the same bleacher section and well, what happens to you next is not for a published hub.
- Getting wasted on whiskey and trying to do "The Worm," in a huge crowd. Hope you like the feeling of thousands of heels on your neck and back.
- Before you start your "Worm" debacle, you innocently attempt to help a toddler get a bite of his ice cream cone and you are suddenly arrested for inappropriate actions toward a minor.
- You make probably the most-vulgar, disrespectful remark toward the police ever made, even by hippies of the 60's, by calling the cops, "Rattlesnake Pigs," and when you tell them to rattle their tails and oink, you spend the weekend in a smelly jail cell with no air conditioning.
- Your behavior is so obnoxious, even the most-deadly rattlers slither away in embarrassment.
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