Headed west today to Sweetwater, TX for their 52nd Annual Rattlesnake Roundup. It originated in 1959 as a way to rid the area of rattlesnakes that were causing a problem for farmers and ranchers by biting and killing their livestock.   Snake hunters gather up rattlers and turn them over to the Jaycees (who run the event). They’re paid so much per pound turned in. Prizes are also awarded for the longest snake and largest total poundage of Rattlers turned in by one person/team.The snakes brought in are first milked in the milking pit. They are then measured and weighed. Some are then used for safety demonstrations, but all will end up being skinned and gutted, with the meat being sold raw (@ $30/lbs) or cooked. We ate some of the fried. It was good, with a taste somewhere between chicken and fish. It was fresh, only a few hours old. Eating it was a bit of a challenge though, with all the small bones.

There were many vendors selling rattlesnake related products as well as anything else you’d find at a flea market/swap meet. The only purchases we made were homemade beef jerky and chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, both very good.

They also had a carnival complete with rides (which we didn’t go to), as well as a Pit-master cook-off (chicken, ribs, beef brisket, chili, deserts, and salsa). Hundreds of pits were in attendance and was a great experience walking around talking and watching them do their work. We tried to get in as judges for the ribs, but missed the deadline by 2 people! 🙁 The next judging event was at least an hour away, so we decided to head home, as we had seen everything we wanted to see and it was getting quite crowded.

It was nice to have gotten there early at 8AM, as we were able to park up front and see all the snake pits without all the crowds. We were even able to touch the snakes and their rattles, as they were held by the handlers. it was an interesting event that we were able to experience, thanks to this lifestyle.