Rattlesnake Roundup slithering our way

Snakes alive! Snake, rattle and roll. For goodness snakes! OK, OK, enough of the bad puns.It's coming, though, the 48th Big Spring Rattlesnake Roundup, put on by the American Business Club (AMBUCS).The venue is the Howard County Fair Barns, March 24-25. The snakes will be in the east-most barn, with the entry barn reserved for a free arts and crafts show.The day before the roundup begins, Friday, the 23rd, club members will weigh in snakes that hunters have captured from around the area. There will be a contest for the heaviest snake and the snake with the most rattles. The show itself gets under way at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs until 6 p.m.“We'll be having snake handling demonstrations, thrill shows and other activities,” said Dennis Burns, roundup chairman and AMBUCS member. Thrill shows can feature snake handlers crawling into snake-stuffed sleeping bags and other antics.“Jackie Bibby will probably bring a cobra, too,” said Burns, speaking of “The Texas Snake Man,” a well-known and longtime snake handler, who has set world records for being in a bathtub with the most snakes and holding the most snakes in his mouth.On an educational level, club members will be explaining to the audience “what to do and what not to do when encountering a snake,” said Burns, as well as giving (venom) milking demonstrations.Those attending will be able to purchase snake skins, mounted snakes and yes, even snake meat, cooked up on the spot.“I'm not that crazy about snake meat myself,” confided Burns, “but we have a lot of people who come back each year just for that.”The performances are repeated from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.Tickets will be available at the door and are $5 for adults and $3 for children age 4 to 11.Burns said the roundup is always entertaining, and has a special appeal for snake enthusiasts and those who are actually terrified of the slithery reptiles.“It's the mystique of the snakes. That's what got me started. I didn't like snakes at all,” said Burns. “I learned to tolerate them, though, and now ... now I really don't have a choice,” he added with a laugh.