A Texas rattlesnake roundup is drawing people from as far as China to sample the more than 1,300 pounds of rattlesnake cooked, smoked, and barbequed.
Rattlesnake roundups are an annual tradition in Texas, where people catch rattlesnakes that are displayed, sold, and cooked. The largest of these is the Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas, which has been held every year since 1958 and draws about 30,000 people each year.
“It’s overwhelming, I can’t believe it, how many people, how many crowds,” said James Smith, who owns a taxidermy company out of Paris, Texas.
The Sweetwater Roundup is prolific when it comes to the rattlesnake haul as well. It’s estimated that 1 percent of the state’s rattlesnake population is captured for the festival.
Besides the cooked snakes, the Rattlesnake Roundup also features carnival rides and food trucks.
“I don’t want them, but I wanted to come see them, and it’s definitely something different to do,” said Jean Tacquard, who traveled from Galveston to attend the festival. “We saw alligators recently, and I wanted to see some snakes!”
For many people, the roundup gives them a chance to try something new and brush up on their hillbilly bona fides.
“Well, it’s not very filling as far as meat is concerned, but it’s tasty,” one of the attendants to this year’s roundup told Big Country, a local radio station. “Don’t expect it to be like chicken, but it’s good as long as they season it right.”
The Sweetwater Roundup offers tours for people interested in seeing the rattlesnakes in their natural habitat rather than at the end of a barbeque stick.
Participants can get into the snake-catching fun as well. The Texas rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater awards prizes for indivduals and groups that turn in the most pounds of rattlesnakes and catch the largest rattlesnake. The festival can be a bit picky, though — only western diamondback snakes in good condition are accepted.