SAN ANTONIO — The 47th annual Rattlesnake and Music Festival will be held Saturday in San Antonio City Park. The festival is combining many of the old features with some new attractions, new food and new prices.
The annual Rattlesnake Run will kick off festivities, beginning with 5-mile and 1-mile courses at 8 a.m. The festival opening ceremony will be at 9 a.m., followed by a full day of entertainment, snake and reptile shows, wildlife exhibits, arts and crafts, children’s games, replica gopher races and food. The festival ends at 10 p.m.
For the first time since the Rattlesnake Festival began in 1967, attendees will be able to buy beer, rattlesnake meat and alligator bites and stay until 10 p.m. to listen to live music. A beer garden also will be open from noon to 10 p.m.
The changes are the result of the event changing organizers this year. Members of the Rattlesnake and Gopher Enthusiasts transferred the rights and resources of the festival to the East Side Seven Rotary clubs this summer.
“Everything has come together,” said Mike Mira, Rotary assistant governor for District 6950. “It’s going to be a great day, the weather forecast looks good. We have a great committee that came together to make this thing happen.”
Admission to the festival is free. Three wildlife shows will be featured: the Rattlesnake Show, Wild Things and Ssnakes. Both the Rattlesnake Show and the Wild Things Show cost $7 for adults and $4 for children and the Ssnakes exhibit costs $2; wristbands for entry to all shows can be purchased for $13 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under.
Billy Bretherton from the A&E reality show “Billy the Exterminator,” which follows the life of a pest control expert, will be available during the festival for autographs and photos. Fans may purchase an autograph or an opportunity to be photographed with him.
Entry in the Rattlesnake Run costs $25 for the 5-mile and 1-mile team race with a child, age 10 and younger. The registration fee is $20 for the 1-mile individual and runner with dog. Registration will begin at 7 a.m. at the San Antonio Restaurant, 32625 State Road 52.
The 5-mile race will start at 8 a.m., followed by the 1-mile races at 8:10 a.m. A special award, the Richard T. Walsh Memorial Award, will be given to the oldest runner to finish the 5-mile race. The award was established in 1998, following the death of Richard Walsh, of Nevada, who died during the 1997 race at the age of 74.
Live music will entertain the crowd during the day. Local musician Dennis Devine will emcee the daytime shows and country radio personality Skip Mahaffey will emcee in the evening. There will be a late afternoon music break to respect Mass at St. Anthony of Padua that borders the park.
Jim Mendenhall of Squamata Reptiles will return for the snake show. Wild Things replaces the John Storms Reptile Show this year. Gopher turtle races will be available for $1 a race. The turtles are wooden mock-ups raced on a track.
There will be bounce houses, slides for $4 per visit and the petting farm cost $2; a wristband is available for $15.
More than 60 arts and craft vendors will display and sell their wares.
For race information, visit www.rattlesnakerun.com. For festival information, visit www.rattlesnakefestival.com or call (352) 588-4444. The Rattlesnake Festival is hosted by the Rotary Clubs of East Pasco. Proceeds will benefit Rotary charities.