Apache_Folks are getting "rattled" in Apache this weekend because of the 25th Annual Rattlesnake Festival. The festival offers the opportunity for festival-goers to get up close and personal, to check out one of nature's most efficient predators. Some took a hands on approach - while others opted for leaving glass between them and the noisy reptile.
Hundreds of the creatures were slithery stars as the small town of Apache began hosting thousands of visitors on Friday. The annual festival has been going strong for 25 years. President of the Rattlesnake Association Ronnie Orf says the event began out of practicality. "What started the event was the farmers," he says. "They don't like their cows getting bit by the snakes." Orf says it's one of the best things to happen to the community. "All of the proceeds that we raise during this event go back into the community," he says.
Proceeds from the festival benefit people in need. Gayla Whitehead's house burned to the ground in February, and the association gave her some much-needed help. "The rattlesnake festival gave us a check for $1,000 to help us out," she says. "My husband broke down crying, because he's never taken money from anybody."
Last year, the festival donated more than $19,000 to the community. "Over the 24 years, we've estimated about $650,000 thousand dollars that we've put back into the community," says Orf. The donations are generous gestures to be sure, but, there's more to it - simply put, it's fun. For some it can also be an adrenaline rush. There is plenty of food, games, and rides for the kids. And, of course, there are rattlesnakes. If you head out to the festival, don't leave without going on a rattlesnake hunt and sampling some fried rattlesnake.