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World Championship
Rattlesnake Races at San Patricio

Why do they race rattlesnakes in San Patricio, Texas?

Because St. Patrick (San Patricio) drove the snakes out of Ireland. And while Texas isn't much like Ireland, it does have snakes -- rattlers -- and local folks figured it would be a good idea to drive snakes on St. Patrrick's Day. They're not likely to drive them out of Texas, which is much larger than Ireland, but they do find sport in moving them down the street a hundred feet or so.

Ratttlesnake races have been held on St. Patrick's Day in San Patricio every year since 1972, according to John Kelso's Texas Curiosities.

"The rattlesnakes race in lanes. The course -- about 100 feet long -- is lined. To get the rattlesnakes going, racers tap the ground next to their snakes with 5-foot-long plastic tubes called 'go-getters.'

"'That vibration of the ground will make them move,' said Jim Dulaney, president of the San Patricio Restoration Society, the event's sponsor."

Only rattlesnakes are allowed in the race. Contestants can bring their own rattler, or rent one for $20. Nearly 400 snakes are brought to the show each year for demonstrations, such as extracting venom. 

"The festival grew out of a community gathering that started in 1877," accordng to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. "Later the town began having a dinner on St. Patrick's Day as a commercial attraction. In 1973, organizers began looking for a way to draw bigger crowds, and a novel idea slithered its way to the top of the possibilities."

Racing takes place at the fairgrounds in Old San Patricio, about 30 miles northwest of Corpus Christi. More than 8,000 visitors turn out for the weekend event, which includes an arts and crafts, a carnival and a band. 


San Patricio World Championship 
Rattlesnake Races 
Information: (361) 547-6112

Portrait of a Predator
by Manny Rubio. Smithsonian. 1998. 
Hardcover, 263 color photographs. Foreword by William S. Brown. Large format. Appendix listing of scientific and common names of rattlesnakes and directory of herpetological societies. Index. 272 pages.

More Ghost Towns of Texas
by T. Lindsay Baker.
Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

A followup to Ghost Towns of Texas, this volume profiles 94 abandoned communities in the Lone Star State, ranging from the Native American settlement of Heuco Tanks in the far west to the farming community oOchiltree in the Panhandle, the port of Sabine along the Gulf Coastt, and the coal-mining town of Minera on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Historian T. Lindsay Baker provides a brief history of each community, highlighting its historical significance and most unusual characteristics. Complented by road maps identifying the location of each town and historic photographs and prints, the sites are also illustrated with contemporary photos taken by the author to show the current condition. 

Texas Curiosities by John Kelso
The Globe Pequot Press, 2000.

Rattlesnake races are just one of 300 unusual events, places and quirky people captured in the pages of Texas Curiosities. Others include the bubble gum blowing contest at the Burton Cotton Gin festival, the Dynamite Museum in Amarillo, and the Cow Goddess of Dallas. Accompanying the description of the World Championship Rattlesnake Races is a profile of Bob and Nan Herndon of Aransas Pass who sell fried rattlesnake meat from a booth at the races each year. The author, John Kelso, is a humor columnist at the Austin American-Statesman.

Been There, Done That
Been There, Done That

Travels From Your Armchair
by Ewan Carpenter

Travel purges the soul, awakens the senses, and questions a person's very existence. But it's not for everyone. Some people don't have the money or inclination to travel, but they do have the curiosity. This book will lead readers to twenty-five of the world's greatest sporting events and festivals, giving them all they need to convince their friends that they have run with the bulls at Pamplona, driven in the Monaco Grand Prix, participated in the Wife-Carrying race in Finland, and so much more. We'll even give them the photographs to prove it. They can just paste their pictures in the slots provided and voila! Their scrapbook will be the envy of the neighborhood.

Filled with facts and figures, tales and tribulations, this little book will lead armchair travelers to adventures they never even dreamed of--and perhaps inspire them to actually go there and do that themselves.
Be outgoing Be outgoing
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