Authored by Jonathan Bolton
This year was the 50th Annual Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival in Claxton, Georgia but this would be my first year attending as volunteer and representative with Orianne. It has been 5 years since becoming a festival after 45 years of being a rattlesnake roundup. After working in roundup country for a couple years, it was definitely a great experience to attend an event celebrating the snakes as well as the other wildlife of Georgia.
The Orianne tent was very popular. We had a wide variety of native reptiles including an Eastern Diamondbacked Rattlesnake and a couple of other venomous snakes, as well as some non-venomous snakes and a few turtles. Those who came to check out the animals had the opportunity to hold the non-venomous snakes and they loved it. For some people, it was the first time they were able to actually hold a snake. To be able to see a few people muster enough courage to hold a snake was awesome to experience from my point of view.
Getting to witness the happiness on some of the kids’ faces and being able to have the opportunity to change at least a few people’s negative views on snakes was enough for me to be willing to volunteer again. I thought the event was set up and run very well and I believe that it is doing some good to help teach the public that snakes aren’t our enemies. Hopefully, some of the other roundups around the country will continue to look at the Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival and realize that celebrating the snakes instead of demonizing them is the right way to go about it. Until then, we can only keep up the conversations and continue to teach others that these snakes are as cool as we think they are.