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Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup | Ennis Polka Festival

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It may be controversial, it may have its critics, it may be many things, but one thing the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup is not is boring. It is a huge event. It sprawls over many acres and occupies many buildings. The crowd numbered in the thousands, outnumbering the snakes. The rattlesnakes take center stage in the Nolan County Coliseum, but outside Rattlesnake Central is a big carnival, buildings filled with vendors, booths selling and cooking food of all sorts, many free samples. Best pork rinds ever tasted. Fried rattlesnake. 

The biggest Barbecue Cook-off ever seen, filling the air with that wonderful smell of barbecue so unique to Texas. 

But even with all the other things going on the rattlesnakes were the main attraction. Bus tours bring people out to the roundup sites, to where the snakes are taken from their dens. 

It cost $6 per adult to see the snakes. It is well worth it. Some of the money collected is paid to Bounty Hunters who get $5 a pound

More Sweetwater Information, including Attractions, Lodging & Restaurants

click here for a map showing the location of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

click here for our Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Video

click here for list of Durango Texas blog posts
 about the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Are you planning a Texas Trip? Do you need a Travel Guide, or a Brochure about a Texas Attraction like Six Flags or Schlitterbahn. Are  you looking for information about Lodging or Camping? Do you need Maps with good directions? You will find all the Texas Information you need by visiting one of the 12 Texas Travel Information Centers located at convenient locations throughout Texas.

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A giant rattlesnake above the entry to Nolan County Coliseum.A huge rattlesnake sits above the entry to Nolan County Coliseum, the rattle at one end, the forked tongue at the other.

The World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup  takes place yearly
 on the Second Weekend in March in Sweetwater, Texas

The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup weekend  officially kicks off on the second Thursday of March with the Rattlesnake Review Parade at 4pm through downtown Sweetwater. That evening, you can attend the Miss Snake Charmer Pageant held in the Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. The doors will open at 8:00 a.m. Friday for the Annual Sweetwater Jaycees World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up with snakes being weighed in at 7:00 a.m. that morning at the Nolan County Coliseum. Catch one of the snake Safety demonstrations while you are at the Roundup and don't forget to try some deep-fried Western Diamondback Rattlesnake meat.

A huge t-shirt advertising the World's Biggest Rattlesnake Roundup.

You can't tell it from this photo, but this may be the world's biggest t-shirt advertising the World's Biggest Rattlesnake Roundup. The population of Sweetwater, Texas on a normal day is about 12,000. The population more than doubles during the Rattlesnake Roundup. 

click here for a map showing the location of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

A Roundup Wrangler working the snake pit full of rattlesnakes. This may have been the most disturbing thing seen. Total overload for even a mild ophiciophobe. This is the Snake Pit where the rattlesnakes are placed after they are measured and weighed, prior to being milked and skinned and fried or sold. Those who make it out alive are bought by a company called Maverick Trading Post that sells reptile meat to restaurants and makes snake paraphernalia. In the Snake Pit two cowboy handlers walk amongst the slithering mass, causing some rattling, both of the snakes and of the nerves of the onlookers. The smell coming from this tank was not pleasant. Bounty Hunters brought in 4,207 pounds of rattlesnakes at the 2003 Roundup.
A little kid oblivious to the snakes being milked behind him. This little guy, who looks like he has a snake coming out of his ear, is at the snake Milking Pit.

More Sweetwater Information, including Attractions, Lodging & Restaurants

People petting a recently milked rattlesnake. After being milked the milker walks the rattler around the Pit, letting onlookers feel the rattling tail or pet the snake.


Watch our Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Video

click here for a map showing the location of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

A little kid very close to a rattlesnake's rattle. The reactions of onlookers made for great people watching.
A kid gasps in amazement watching people pet a rattlesnake.

Check out the expression on the kid in the background as the rattlesnake handler holds the head of the recently milked snake and lets people pet the shaking rattle.

click here for our Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Video

A rattlesnake milker holding a rattlesnake. The handlers seemed to have no trouble with the snakes. One hand would hold the head while the other held the tail end. 
A couple of women taking photos of a rattlensnake. The woman on the right was a bit unsettled at being so close to the rattlesnakes, but she persisted in trying to get a photo.
The snake handler is milking the venom from a rattlesnake. Here we see the venom being milked from a rattlesnake. Milk seems an unfortunate choice of word for this, as milk sounds like something one might drink and which usually comes from some form of breast or udder. Rattlesnakes appear to be breast and udder free.. 
The snake handler uses a hook to left a soon to be milked rattlesnake out of a bucket. Here we see the handler using a hook to pull a snake out of a bucket so it can be milked. The photographer was looking through the camera lens when that hook went into the bucket and a snake was suddenly being drawn much too close. 
A sign promoting Coors Beer's sponsorship of the Biggest Rattlesnake Contest. A sign saying 'Snake Contest Sponsored by Coors Light' which would seem to contradict the common sense thinking that alcohol and snakes don't mix.
A snake handler puts on a show with several rattlesnakes. The various Snake Pits had viewing stands. Here we see the Handling and Safety Pit. Rattlesnakes are placed on a table to show what they look like when ready to strike. And then agitated to strike. An agitated rattler moves faster than one might have expected.
A pair of rattlesnakes getting agitated by the snake handler.
click here for our Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Video showing the above scene in action
A sign overhead pointing to the Skinning Pit and Skin Sales. A sign overhead points towards the 'Skinning Pit' and 'Skin Sales'. 
Skinning the rattlensnakes.

The snakes are executed away from public eyes. But they are skinned in full view. A Chinese woman offered the Sweetwater Jaycees (they run the Rattlesnake Roundup as well as the skinning and frying) one dollar per snake gall bladder. To be used in some medicinal concoction believed by some to be as useful as Viagra. 

Stretching out a rattlesnake skin. Rattlesnake skin for sale for $5 a foot. Great gift for the person who has everything.

click here for a map showing the location of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

A young Sweetwater native serving up a basket of Rattlesnake and Fries.

This young Sweetwater native is showing us what a basket of fried rattlesnake looks like. Many people were heard to say it tastes just like chicken. But it is very bony, as in the worst type of bony fish, like a big-boned trout. With a poultry flavor.

The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Jaycees Fried Rattlesnake Restaurant menu.

The menu from the Sweetwater Jaycees Fried  Rattlesnake Restaurant. A very popular place to eat. 

The Research Pit where the rattlesnakes are weighed and measured. The Research Pit where the snakes are weighed and measured. And then thrown in that big pit we saw above.
The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Miss Snake Charmer.

The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup has no Rattlesnake Queen or Rattlesnake Princess. Instead Miss Snake Charmer is chosen. Miss Snake Charmer, Alanna Adams, kindly agreed to pose for us in full Miss Snake Charmer mode. During her reign as Miss Snake Charmer the winner of this coveted title is required to skin or milk a snake. A choice between handling a bloody dead snake, or handling a cold-blooded live slithering snake. It is believed that no Miss Snake Charmer has ever been snake bit during her reign. And unlike some previous Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundups no one is believed to have been snake bit at the 2003 event.

click here for a map showing the location of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Rattlesnake stuff for sale. Much Rattlesnake stuff for sale.
Rattlesnakes for sale. Here you can pick out a rattlesnake to bring home with you.
A Marine recruiting booth among the snake vendors. The Marines had a booth among the snakes, searching for a few good men and women. If you could do 10 pull-ups in the correct Marine fashion you got a Marine t-shirt. It fits quite nice.
One of the buildings outside Nolan Coliseum filled with vendors. Now, we've left Nolan Coliseum and its snakes and have gone into one of the other buildings filled with more people and things to buy.
The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Carnival. A big carnival with a Big Texas Sky and the hint of the flatlands of West Texas in the background.
The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Barbecue Cook-Off. Now we are in the Barbecue Cook-Off area. The Cook-Off sprawled over a very large area, dozens of encampments competing for best barbecue credentials. 
The Hillbilly/Hippie Barbecue Group at the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Here we see the Hillbilly/Hippie Barbecue group.
A giant Coors beer can looks over the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Barbecue Cook-Off. Our last look at the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup looks towards the Barbecue Cook-off area. As you can see, Coors and Coors Lite play a predominant role in all parts of the Rattlesnake Roundup. Including this website...

click here for a map showing the location of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup


The past 5 years we have blogged numerous times about the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup on our Durango Texas Blog. Below are links to those blog posts.....
Rattlesnake Phobia

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Sweetwater Texas Rattlesnake Roundup

The Sweetwater Texas Rattlesnake Roundup Anti-Venom

The 2009 Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Comments

Alma's Mating Rattlesnakes & The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Sweetwater Sucks & Other Dumb Comments

A Rattlesnake Bridge & The Sweetwater Texas Rattlesnake Roundup

TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010
YouTube Rattlesnakes, Australians, Americans, Texans & Nazis

The World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup Starts March 10 In Sweetwater Texas

We Need To Thin Down The Population Of Rattlesnakes At Our Ranch

SUNDAY, MARCH 13, 2011
Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Pageant Hopefuls Decapitate & Skin Snakes

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Weekend Kick Off Is Thursday March 8 With The Rattlesnake Review Parade

The 2nd Saturday Of March Dawns Cold Thinking About Rounding Up Rattlesnakes

Apparently Killing Sweetwater Rattlesnakes Is Senseless & Makes You Look Like A Moron

The Sweetwater Rattlesnakes Will Have Their Day

Apparently I Have A Big Rattlesnake Surprise Waiting For Me

Apparently Children Are Witnessing Rattlesnake Beheadings In Sweetwater Texas

Visit our Eyes on Texas Blog to make a comment or share info about the Rattlesnake Roundup

Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival | Canton First Mondays  

  Arlington 4th Parade | Granbury 4th Parade | General Granbury's Birthday

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup | Ennis Polka Festival

Cowgirl Parade | Peach Festival | Scarborough Faire

A Longhorn in Wildflowers at Lake Grapevine
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