Rattlesnake Rodeo marks it's 50th anniversary

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Opp, AL (WSFA) - It started as a way to control the overpopulation of rattlesnakes, and it has become one of the top ten tourist destinations in the state.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo, and tens of thousands will flock to see the slithering creatures that have most running scared.

Six year old Brian Childee said, "I thought my daddy was going to run because he usually runs when he sees snakes."

Those snakes are all caught in the Wiregrass when city officials and plain ole' citizens go on snake hunting trips.

Don Childre, a snake hunter and the City Planner for Opp said, "We go out and look for areas that have gopher holes in them, and we stick a three pong hook down in there.  Then, we crank it around a little bit until we hook them, and just pull them out of the hole."

And for Mary Yancey and her husband, those snakes are more than just a hobby.

"We buy them, and make things out of them so they're not wasted,"  she said.  "They're how we make a living."

The rodeo also brings in much needed revenue for the city.

Tonitta Sauls, the Rattlesnake Rodeo's coordinator said, "Twenty-five to thirty thousand people are coming into the small city of Opp. They're spending money here, they're eating here, they're sleeping here, and they're buying arts and crafts."

So if you listen to that rattle close enough, it might just be the sound of success.

Saturday, gates open at 8 AM, and Billy Currington will perform at 8 PM..

Admission is $10, and kids six and under get in free.

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