Rattlesnake revelry

Walnut Springs hosts annual Rattlesnake Roundup March 6-8

WALNUT SPRINGS - Bluebonnets herald in the spring in Texas, but also has the area snakes slowly slithering out of brumation on warmer days. And in Central Texas before the serpents come out of their winter lairs, area snake hunters start collecting the sleepy rattlesnakes in anticipation of the Walnut Springs Rattlesnake Roundup March 6-8.

Started by the Lions Club many, many years ago, and taken over by the Walnut Springs Business for Youth in Agriculture in 2011, the three-day Walnut Spring Rattlesnake Roundup on the first weekend of March has grown into the town’s main attraction. The event combines ridding the area of excessive rattlesnake dens with a fundraiser for the local youth.

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Preparing chicken for the IBCA sanctioned BBQ cookoff March 7 in Walnut Springs during the annual Rattlesnake Roundup (above); Safely behind the pit barrier visitors marvel at the The Good Ol’ Boys snake show (top).

The rattlesnakes brought in by the snake hunters are featured in the Snake Pit during the snake charmer show by the Good Ol’ Boys before they are euthanized and their skins harvested to make all sorts of accessories and their meat for cooking.

Last year, a group of young men hunting out rattlers at the Whisky Canyon Ranch brought in the most rattlers – 195 pounds of slithery, rattling serpents. The heaviest snake in 2019 weighed just over four pounds. It’s not the $100 cash prize, but the bragging rights that have the rattlesnake hunters excited to participate.

Over the years, the activities surrounding the three-day rattlesnake roundup have increased, offering a variety of musical entertainment in the town’s saloons and a dance at the community center, new rides at the carnival, including a Ferris wheel, the IBCA sanctioned Rattlesnake Barbecue Cookoff, and a CASI sanctioned chili cookoff hosted by the Bosque Animal Rescue Kennels. BARK volunteers will have their furry friends looking for a forever home with them.

Jojo the Capucin monkey is a regular, entertaining the crowd as they fill up on huge funnel cakes, shop for unique finds like jewelry or knives, judge at the cookoff and buy a Rattlesnake Roundup T-shirt to support the good cause.

The bands playing at this year’s two for one Annual Snake Dance are the Calamity Janes at the Community Center and the Justin Ross full band at the Rattlesnake Ballroom.

Both the snake show and live entertainment fees benefit the Walnut Springs Youth in Agriculture program, and bring in about half the organization’s funds for different projects. The organization raises money for youth livestock projects, but in recent years has expanded their support to scholarships and community events.

Get to the WSBYA concession stand early for breakfast on Saturday because before you know it, they’ll be sold out. But then again, you can enjoy their famous BBQ and Texas taters later on during the day.

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Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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