Two days of educational exhibits, a parade, vendors galore and live entertainment are in store this weekend as the Evans County Wildlife Club hosts the 51st annual Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival.
The fun begins with a Rattlesnake Run race at 8 a.m., followed by a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday with classic cars, floats, dignitaries and beauty queens, including the newly crowned Miss Rattlesnake and Wildlife Queen, who will be crowned tonight during the Evans County Rattlesnake and Wildlife Queen Pageant. Admission to the pageant, which begins at 7 p.m., is $7.
The festival grounds, at 501 Cedar Ave. in Hagan, will open at 8 a.m. Saturday with live entertainment, wildlife educational exhibits, snake displays and rows upon rows of vendors with jewelry, leather goods, T-shirts, arts and crafts and a variety of foods for sale. The grounds close at 6 p.m.
The festival will open again Sunday at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Admission is $7 each day, with kids 5 and under free.
A car show will take place Sunday, the first year for the Rattlesnake Car Show, which officials hope will become an annual event. Registration fees for the car show are $15. Registration is from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday, with awards presented at 2 p.m.
The annual festival began as the Rattlesnake Roundup in 1968, after a local boy was bitten by a rattler. The roundup was to help reduce the number of venomous rattlesnakes in the area as well as milk them for venom to make antivenin.
As the years passed, the Evans County Wildlife Club continued to sponsor the event, adding a beauty pageant, arts and crafts, a parade and live entertainment to the schedule. In 2012, the event name was changed to the Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival in an effort to put more emphasis on wildlife conservation, according to the Evans County Wildlife Club website (www.evanscountywildlifeclub.com).
The festival is a fundraiser that enables the club to "give back to Evans County and surrounding communities through annual donations to local charities, non-profit groups, schools, churches, and numerous events," the site says. "The Club sponsors wildlife conservation at local schools and supports activities designed to promote high standards of sportsmanship."
The Evans County Wildlife Club is a member of the Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce as well as the Georgia Sportsman Federation.
The Southeast Tourism Society voted the Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival as one of the "Top 20 Events in the Southeast." The annual festival brings more than 15,000 tourists and an economic boost to the community.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (912) 739-3820.
2018 Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival schedule of events
9 a.m. — Eastern Diamondback Conservation (snake pit)
10:30 a.m. — Adams & Lott Full Circle Outdoor (snake pit)
11 a.m. — Southeastern Reptile Rescue (at booth)
11:30 a.m. — Gun dog seminar (pond outside gate), Chehaw education program (snake pit)
Noon — DNR education show (snake pit), Wescott (stage)
12:45 p.m. — GA Reptile Adventures (snake pit)
1 p.m. — Raptors program with flight show (inside)
2 p.m. — Rattlesnake tagging demo by biologists (snake pit), awards and crowning of the queen (stage)
2:30 p.m. — Line Dance Fever (stage), Southeastern Reptile Rescue (at booth), reptile program (inside)
3 p.m. — Ray Morgan (snake pit), Dancer's Edge (stage)
3:30 p.m. — Orianne Society education show (snake pit), State Prison Cloggers (stage)
4 p.m. — Central Florida Zoo education show (snake pit), gun dog seminar (pond outside gate), raptors program with flight show (inside)
11 a.m. — Gun dog seminar (pond outside gate), GA Reptile Adventures (snake pit)
11:30 a.m. — Southeastern Reptile Rescue (at booth), Ray Morgan (snake pit), turkey calling contest (inside)
Noon — Adams & Lott Full Circle Outdoor (snake pit)
12:30 p.m. — Heartland Express (stage), Orianne Society education show (snake pit)
1 p.m. — Eastern Diamondback Conservation (snake pit), Chyann Rose (stage)
1:30 p.m. — Kindred Spirits (stage)
2 p.m. — DNR education show (snake pit)
2:30 p.m. — Grace McBride (stage)
3 p.m. — Central Florida Zoo education show (snake pit)
4 p.m. — Chehaw education show (snake pit)