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April 10, 2014

Snakes alive! Waurika ready for annual rattlesnake fest

WAURIKA — WAURIKA — As they slither across the terrain, the rattlesnakes of western Jefferson County have no idea of the benefits they’re providing the humans they are trying to avoid.

As people learned generations ago, the venom that makes rattlesnakes so dangerous can also be used medicinally as an anti-venom to save human lives.

The 53rd Fangtastic Waurika Rattlesnake Hunt weekend begins Friday, and once again the organizers anticipate bringing in revenue that can be funneled back into the community via the purchase of equipment and other items that make the Waurika Volunteer Fire Department one of the state’s finest rural emergency services.

When it comes to generating revenue, the Fangtastic weekend also watersheds to other entities and individuals in the community and area.

Thousands of visitors will stop in Waurika from Friday through Sunday, and they’re going to spend money at local businesses. Dozens of gift and souvenir vendors — some local, some from surrounding states — will realize a profit over the weekend, as will Sam’s Amusement Rides, the Okemah-based carnival company that operates the midway.

James White and the courageous Outlaw Handlers will make their annual visit, putting on daring, up-close-and-personal performances, and fattening their wallets through the risks they take.

School clubs and civic organizations will take in some cash that can enhance their programs, including the JeffCo Helping Hands organization, which conducts a 5K race and 1 mile fun run/walk on Saturday.

There will be garage sales going on throughout Waurika that will result in cash and a chance to clean out some clutter for the sellers.

Individuals can pick up some extra spending money by selling snakes to the fire department. That process has expanded this year.

Firefighter Steven Dyer said, “We’ve already bought over 5,000 pounds of snakes; it’s been a pretty good year for the sellers. It’s gotten warmer and there seem to be a lot more people out hunting. We had a guy from Texas who brought in over 2,300 pounds, and that’s a lot of snakes.

“The snakes are healthy and are pretty good sized. We’ll use them at the Butcher Shoppe on the street, and we’ll be cooking them at the firefighters stand on the street in front of snake headquarters.

“There will also be a guy here to milk snakes that will be used to make anti-venom.”

Another source of revenue will be the annual snake competitions that draw big crowds on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, there will be a team sacking competition, while Sunday afternoon features individual snake sacking and contests for longest snake, shortest snake and the snake will the most rattles.”

Also on Sunday afternoon, the 2014 Fangtastic Snake Hunt Queens and Kings will be crowned.

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