US-LIFESTYLE-RATTLESNAKE ROUNDUP

World's Largest Rattlesnake Rodeo Slithers Through Texas

A controversial tradition enters its 60th year in Sweetwater.

The 60th Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup, the world's largest rattlesnake rodeo, took place in the small Texas town of about 11,000 people over the weekend. Thousands flocked to the annual event to see wild-caught rattlesnakes skinned, eaten, and milked for their venom during Sweetwater's main event of the year. Viewers beware...this is not for the faint of heart.

The roundup begins with a snake hunt. After the rattlesnakes are captured, they are then displayed, weighed, sold, skinned, and eaten at the festival. The annual event, which also hosts a carnival, food vendors, a gun and knife show, and a rattlesnake eating contest, is a huge economic boost for the local economy as it attracts thousands of people each year. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images The roundup begins with a snake hunt. After the rattlesnakes are captured, they are then displayed, weighed, sold, skinned, and eaten at the festival. The annual event, which also hosts a carnival, food vendors, a gun and knife show, and a rattlesnake eating contest, is a huge economic boost for the local economy as it attracts thousands of people each year. Some groups have called the tradition a &quot;<a href="https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/rattlesnake-roundups-cruelty-draws-crowds"target="_blank">pageant of cruelty</a>&quot; since many of the rattlesnakes are gassed out of their dens, a hunting technique that is often practiced for the safety of the hunters. After the snakes are captured, they often spend weeks in darkness without food or water. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images Some groups have called the tradition a "pageant of cruelty" since many of the rattlesnakes are gassed out of their dens, a hunting technique that is often practiced for the safety of the hunters. After the snakes are captured, they often spend weeks in darkness without food or water. One of the most venomous snakes in the country, rattlesnakes are pit vipers which, according to the South Texas Poison Center, account for nearly 99 percent of all venomous snake bites in the state. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images One of the most venomous snakes in the country, rattlesnakes are pit vipers which, according to the South Texas Poison Center, account for nearly 99 percent of all venomous snake bites in the state. One hunter displays the fangs of a rattlesnake to attendees. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images One hunter displays the fangs of a rattlesnake to attendees. A rattlesnake is ready to strike inside the pit. /AFP/Getty Images A rattlesnake is ready to strike inside the pit. The shadow of an event official looms over a pit of rattlesnakes. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images The shadow of an event official looms over a pit of rattlesnakes. &quot;Miss Texas&quot; Margana Wood learns how to skin a rattlesnake at one of the booths. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images "Miss Texas" Margana Wood learns how to skin a rattlesnake at one of the booths. &quot;Miss Texas&quot; shows a rattlesnake heart to attendees. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images "Miss Texas" shows a rattlesnake heart to attendees. An official skins a rattlesnake at one of the demonstration areas. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images An official skins a rattlesnake at one of the demonstration areas. Bloody handprints are pictured in the demonstration area where snakes are skinned in front of attendees. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images Bloody handprints are pictured in the demonstration area where snakes are skinned in front of attendees. Officials determine who caught the longest rattlesnake during one of the many competitions of the weekend. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images Officials determine who caught the longest rattlesnake during one of the many competitions of the weekend. A young girl peers into a pit of rattlesnakes. LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP/Getty Images A young girl peers into a pit of rattlesnakes.
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