AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A dozen rattlesnakes find themselves 250 miles from home this week.
The western diamondback snakes visited the Texas Capitol with the Sweetwater Jaycees, an organization that participates in rattlesnake education and population control.
The Sweetwater Jaycees host the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up on the second weekend in March each year. This year they will host the event March 8-10.
The yearly Capitol visit draws jokes about slithering lobbyists and lawmakers, but also serves as a promotional tool for the March event.
“We’re down here basically to provide safety and handling demonstrations at the Capitol and to let people know what our event is about,” Jaycee Rob McCann said. “We are about safety, we are about educating the public, and helping out the Big Country.”
Miss Texas Madison Fuller joined the Jaycees and their rattlesnakes at the Capitol on Monday, where the group will be stationed until Thursday.
“There’s something for everybody in Sweetwater Texas,” McCann said. “The Rattlesnake Round-Up is educational, we are going to teach you what to do if you ever run into a rattlesnake, we are going to teach you a lot, but no one really knows about a rattlesnake unless you come and ask somebody.”
Last year, the Jaycees celebrated their 60th anniversary. McCann said the group hunts and collects the snakes to help law enforcement and wildlife authorities manage the snake population, averaging 6,000 pounds each year.
“Up to 24,000 (pounds) is our world record, some have been down about 1,000 pounds,” McCann said of the annual haul.
The Round-Up also features a carnival, cook-off, and other family activities in addition to sessions featuring the snakes.
The event is held in the Nolan County Coliseum. For this year’s full calendar, click here.