Nestled away, 45 miles West of Abilene, TX you’ll find Sweetwater, home to 12,000 Texans and the largest Rattle Snake Round up in the world. As an Abilene native, you would think I would have braved this event before, but snakes are not exactly my cup of tea. This year I decided to overcome my fear, so I put on my boots and headed out to see some rattlers.

Every snake taken in for this event is milked for their venom, which is then sold to pharmaceutical companies and used for anti-venom.

No one could have prepared me for what I experienced on Saturday. Yes, I knew there would be snakes and a ton of people, but I never expected the event to be quite like it was. As we pulled into town there was a line of cars as far as you could see and thousands of people gathering for what I thought would be just a “small town” event. Accompanied by a small carnival, from outside the coliseum the Rattlesnake Round up reminded me of a fair, but once I entered the coliseum of snakes it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. There were 5 different pits: one for holding snakes, one for measuring and weighing the snakes, one for milking the snakes, one for skinning the snakes and the other for safety demonstrations on how to best handle a snake encounter. From deep-fried western diamondback to snake safety demonstrations, I saw everything I could ever imagine about rattlesnakes.

When snakes are brought in they are placed in the holding pit.

Outside the building of snakes, there was also a carnival, gun and knife show, several food booths and a flea market, which I enjoyed. There is nothing better than a good West Texas flea market and the Rattle Snake Roundup’s was pretty impressive. From jewelry to antiques, there was a little something for everyone!

Crowds gathered for safety demonstrations on how to best handle a snake encounter.

Overall, the Rattlesnake Round Up was a success!! It is something that everyone must see at least once in their life. Snake lover or not, it is an experience that cannot be found in any other part of the world. Plus, for all the girls…… once you brave the snakes, there is some great shopping. This event has been going on for more than 50 years. It was originally started by farmers and ranchers in Sweetwater who were tired of fending off the scary snakes. Since 1974, proceeds from the event have benefited the Tri-County Children’s Advocacy Center, the American Red Cross, MHMR for the mentally handicapped, the Boy and Girl Scouts, Special Olympics and many more.