It’s Claxton’s turn in the spotlight.
The 46th annual Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival will take place next weekend in the Claxton-Evans Industrial Park, at 501 Cedar Ave. in Hagan.
The event is sponsored by the Evans County Wildlife Club, Coca-Cola and NeSmith Chevrolet in Claxton. What was formerly known as a Rattlesnake Roundup has expanded to be a full wildlife festival featuring incredible new exhibits and live safari animals.
The weekend kicks off with the Miss Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival Pageant at 7 p.m. at the Wildlife Club. Ten local young ladies will compete.
The queen will be crowned at 2 p.m. Saturday at Festival Headquarters by reigning queen Miss Katie Griffin and Miss Georgia, Leighton Jordon.
Festival gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. March 10. Tickets are available at the gate, and admission is $6 per person 6 years and older. Kids 5 and younger are admitted free. Parking at the festival is free. More than 150 arts and crafts booths, food vendors, snake handling demonstrations, live entertainment, rock climbing wall, a zip line and much more will be on-site both days.
The Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival parade will be held in downtown Claxton at 10 .m. Saturday, with more than 200 units participating.
For the second year, Brian Staples Safari will provide exotic animal shows and petting zoos featuring animals such as lions, tigers and monkeys. The Safari exhibit has been expanded to include many more animals and live shows. Camels and pony rides will be available for the kids. There will also be Indian artifacts on display, a horseshoeing exhibit, dog hunting demonstrations, kids’ bass fishing rodeo, a 3-D Archery Tournament, the Georgia Southern University Wildlife Center Birds of Prey flight demonstration, and exhibits from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Jacksonville Zoo, among others.
“We’re so excited to offer such an extensive array of wildlife again this year,” said Keith Barnard, the president of the Evans County Wildlife Club. “Of course, we have an enormous collection of rattlesnakes and endangered snakes for the community to see, as we have for the past 45 years. For only six bucks, we’re providing the most educational, hands-on and entertaining wildlife experience this area has ever seen.”
A new addition to this year’s line-up of events is the Brian Staples Safari Zoo Animal Magic Show. Scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Festival Headquarters under the Big Top tent in the zoo area, this interactive magic and animal show is designed to entertain the entire family.
Admission to the Animal Magic Show is $5 for adults; children 5 and younger are free. For those who attend the Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival on Saturday during regular festival hours, a discount admission of $3 for adults will be offered with a hand stamp.
The Evans County Wildlife Club is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about wildlife conservation. The club provides college scholarships and donates remaining annual proceeds to nonprofit clubs, organizations, churches, schools and numerous worthwhile projects and events.
For more information on the club or the Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival, visit www.evanscountywildlifeclub.com or call (912) 739-3820.