SERPENT READY FOR HIS CLOSEUP…A file photo from the 2019 edition of the Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup. Saturday’s event will mark the 60th anniversary of the community festival.
The Whigham Community Club is preparing for a milestone Rattlesnake Roundup this weekend when the 60th annual event kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Roundup goers will have a longer opportunity to see the star of the show this year. For the first time, the club has changed the deadline for hunters to bring their snakes to the Roundup Grounds. The new deadline is 11 a.m., two-and-a-half hours earlier than the former deadline of 1:30 p.m. “We want to have them there longer for people who want to come see them,” says Greg Ponder, spokesman for the Whigham Community Club, which puts on the Roundup.
Veteran hunter and snake handler Tommy Lancos will be in charge of the snake ring where the serpents will be milked of their venom, weighed and measured. The snakes will also be on display. Hunters will win cash prizes for the largest and the most snakes they bring to the roundup.
Ponder says the emphasis of the roundup is education about the role snakes play in our environment. Professional reptile exhibitor Yarbrough’s Educational Reptile Program will have their own snakes and other reptiles for people to learn about during demonstrations scheduled throughout the day.
Folks can also get a taste of cooked rattlesnake meat, but Ponder suggests getting there early before it sells out.
Snakes aren’t the only attraction at the Roundup. Local blues legend, the Johnnie Marshall Blues Band, will perform throughout the day. Marshall has toured around the globe as a blues musician, and is performing for his hometown festival for the second year.
Approximately 100 vendors will have their arts and crafts and food items for sale throughout the day. “We always have some new vendors, and one this year is focused on pets. She has pet clothing and dog beds made from recycled tires,” says Ponder. Another vendor sells fishing lures made from bottle caps, Ponder says.
There will also be family activities including games, face painting, pony rides, and bounce houses.
Ponder says the weather forecast looks positive, so he is hoping for a large turnout since this is the club’s only major fundraiser each year. The club uses its proceeds to support various local causes including the Whigham Boy Scouts, Grady County 4-H and FFA livestock shows, home burnout victims, school trips, clubs, sports teams and other special requests.
Ponder says he was pleased to learn that the Whigham Boy Scout troop has produced 40 Eagle Scouts through the years, which means at $500 per Eagle Scout, the Whigham Community Club has given $20,000 in Eagle Scout scholarships alone.
Parking is free for the day at the Rattlesnake Roundup Grounds located on U.S. 84 in Whigham. There is a $5 per person entrance fee to the Roundup, itself, although families of more than four will pay a maximum of $20. Gates open at 8 a.m., and the event wraps up at 4 p.m.
Ponder said he would like to thank the many people who support the club in putting on the Roundup, including spouses of club members and the Whigham Boy Scouts.
He says, “We certainly would love for everybody to come out and support us. It all goes to very good causes.”