Oglesby Rattlesnake Round-up rattles the Five Hills royalty
Special to Leader-Press
There are 10 species of rattlesnakes in Texas including the Western Diamondback to the Blacktailed Rattlesnake found in Central Texas. On average, 1 to 2 people in Texas die each year from venomous snake bites. The Copperas Cove Five Hills royalty interacted with master snake handlers and held snakes wrapping them around their shoulders at the 51st Annual Oglesby Rattlesnake Round-Up.
The titleholders were invited to volunteer at the annual event sponsored by the Oglesby Lions Club. The queens volunteered prior to the last snake show of the day by selling pieces of pie and selling raffle tickets to raise money for college scholarships.
“I didn't think I would enjoy attending the rattle snake round-up because I am very frightened of snakes. The chances that the snake handlers took during the show made my anxiety high, but it was so awesome to see them with the venomous snakes,” said Five Hills Ambassador Briana Liles. “I even held a pretty big python around my neck and I overcame much of my fear.”
The Texas Department of Wildlife encourages Texans to not kill a snake - even a venomous one. Snakes usually retreat or escape if given the opportunity. The danger comes when they are either surprised or cornered.
“For someone who is apprehensive of snakes, this event was quite scary with the rattlesnakes being so close,” Teen Miss Mary Rhorick said. “However, the demonstration by the snake handlers showed real scenarios where you can encounter a rattlesnake and how to get away safely.”
Snakes form a key link in the food chain. They act as predators and as prey. They help maintain a healthy ecosystem and environment.
“It was so crazy seeing all the snakes in the pit. I was scared for the people in there with them, but they were very good handlers and no one got bitten,” Preteen Miss Five Hills Kaydence Roberts said, showing off her souvenir rattle shed from a snake’s tail.
The event, held the third weekend in February, usually draws about 3,000 and raises thousands of dollars for vision services in local schools and a children’s camp in Kerrville.
“I loved volunteering, selling raffle tickets around the huge arena filled with rattlesnakes and their expert handlers,” said Junior Miss Five Hills Hayley Sawyer. “The best part was holding the python over my shoulders. After that, I couldn't get enough. I even touched the rattlesnakes and they felt very smooth and amazing.”
Event festivities included snake handler Jackie Bibby, star of Animal Planet’s “Rattlesnake Republic.” Bibby and other snake handlers performed live demonstrations in the snake pit throughout the festival.
“The rattlesnake round-up was exciting from getting to experience wearing a snake around my neck, touching a live rattle snake, and meeting some great people while selling pies,” said Young Miss Five Hills Angelica Torres. “We were treated so nicely, like we were from their town.”