Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-Up

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-Up

Second weekend in March
Billed "The World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up," this is one of several rattlesnake round-ups in Texas. It was started in 1958 by ranchers in Sweetwater to thin out the snakes plaguing them and their livestock, and now the average annual catch is 12,000 pounds of Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. Some 30,000 spectators watch the goings-on.
The round-up is sponsored by the Sweetwater Jaycees, who stress the focus on safety (hunters are governed by state hunting laws) and the benefits of the round-up. The round-up supports various Jaycee charitable causes.
The weekend events include snake-handling demonstrations and the awarding of prizes for the most pounds and the biggest snake. There are also a Miss Snake Charmer Queen Contest, a parade, rattlesnake dances with country bands, and a rattlesnake meat-eating contest. A cook shack fries and serves more than 4,000 pounds of rattlesnake meat each year.
Other Texas rattlesnake round-ups are held from February through April in Cleburne, Brownwood, Big Spring, San Angelo, Jacksboro, Gainesville, and Freer. A number of other southern states also have rattlesnake round-ups.
In recent years, state departments of natural resources and conservation organizations have warned of the health risks of eating rattlesnakes caught at round-ups. In addition, the Humane Society has condemned the cruelty to snakes during these events and argues that rattlesnakes actually present relatively little danger to livestock—and that holding roundups increases the chances that humans will be bitten.
CONTACTS:
Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce
810 E. Broadway
Sweetwater, TX 79556
800-658-6757 or 325-235-5488
www.sweetwatertexas.org
Humane Society of the United States, Department of Philanthropy
2100 L St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
800-808-7858 or 301-258-3130; fax: 301-548-7700
www.hsus.org
SOURCES:
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 122