The San Antonio Rotary Club is considering four organizations that are interested in taking over the annual San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival & Run.
The club announced earlier this month that the 50th festival, held in October, would be its last.
“We pulled out all the stops for the 50th annual festival to honor and celebrate this longstanding community fundraiser,” Betty Burke said, in the announcement.
“The sad fact is that it’s just too large of a project for our small club and the declining pool of community volunteers,” Burke added.
Since then, however, the club has heard from four organizations, and it will be discussing their offers to take over the event at its meeting Feb. 21.
Some of the organizations are for-profit organizations and some are not, Burke said, declining to identify them before the club meets.
Burke had a mixed reaction when organizations came forward expressing an interest in taking over the festival.
“On the one hand, we kind of felt that the 50th (festival) was a good one to finish it with,” she said.
On the other hand, after news broke that the club would no longer organize the festival, most people were sad to see it go, she said.
There’s a possibility the festival could move, depending on which organization is selected to take it over, she said. Or, the new organizers would need to work with the City of San Antonio, if the festival stays at the park.
Burke said she’ll present the information to the club, and they’ll discuss which organization would seem to match up with the festival’s original purpose.
Burke recapped the event’s history, when she announced it would be ending.
The festival originally was conceived a half-century ago, by founders Eddie Herrmann and Willy Post, as a rattlesnake roundup — to replace the San Antonio Junior Chamber of Commerce’s Fun Day, which was being discontinued, according to Burke’s recap.
The Jaycees presented the first Rattlesnake Roundup on Nov. 4, 1967, in City Park in San Antonio. Its aim was to entertain and give funds back to the local community.
That event continued for nearly a decade, with few changes, until the Jaycees gave up their chapter.
That prompted Herrmann and other members of the community to form the Rattlesnake and Gopher Enthusiasts (R.A.G.E.) group to carry on the tradition, Burke adds. That group incorporated as a nonprofit in 1996.
In 2013, R.A.G.E. announced it could no longer manage the event due to a lack of new volunteers to help.
That’s when the San Antonio, Dade City Sunrise, Wesley Chapel, Wesley Chapel Sunrise, Zephyrhills, and Zephyrhills Daybreak Rotary clubs stepped in and assumed leadership for the festival, under the banner of East Pasco Rotary Charities, the recap added.
“The East Side Rotaries did an outstanding job with the festival in 2013,” San Antonio Rotary president Winnie Burke, said in the club’s announcement.
“In the face of losing the festival entirely that year, it was heartwarming to see
our larger community pull together to keep the tradition alive,” Winnie Burke added.
When that group stepped down, saying they wouldn’t manage the festival in 2014, the San Antonio club took over as the sole organizers.
The celebration marking the event’s half-century mark was a two-day event, featuring a 5-mile and 1-mile run, a family bike ride, musical entertainment, a snake show, a cowboy show, crocodile demonstrations, mechanical gopher tortoise races, food booths, children’s rides and a pumpkin patch.
Now, it appears that a new chapter is about to be written for the San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival & Run.
Published February 22, 2017