For the past 59 years, the residents of Sweetwater, Texas, have been coming together during the second weekend of March to celebrate the ‘World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup’, a four-day event that features the beheading and skinning of thousands of rattlesnakes in front of a live audience.
Annual rattlesnake roundups are common in several areas of the rural Midwest and Southern United States, but the event at Sweetwater is considered by far the largest of them all. Launched in 1958 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), it used to be the most effective way to control the region’s heavy snake population responsible for the death of cattle and humans alike.
And while the festival’s original premise might not be relevant anymore, the event still manages to draw up to 30,000 visitors each year, including out-of-state snake hunting teams and tourists from other countries. Just last year , a whopping 3,780 pounds – that’s tens of thousands – of rattlesnake were netted and thrown live into a pit, from where they were taken out and killed, one at a time.