The Rattlesnake Festival had its biggest year since The Thomas Promise Foundation took over, despite the appearance of Tropical Storm Nestor, event organizers say.
“We’ll be able to provide 100,000 lunches as a result of this years’ Rattlesnake Festival,” Joe Simmons, executive director for The Thomas Promise Foundation, said in a news release.
“That’s more than the last two years. Imagine what we could do if the storm hadn’t come through,” Simmons added.
According to long-held tradition, The Rattlesnake Festival was held on the third weekend of October, which this year fell on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.
Having the festival that weekend was decided in 1967, based on research by a weatherman that historically that weekend had the best weather.
Indeed, over the years the festival has enjoyed dry weather most of the time, according to the release.
But, not this year.
Tropical Storm Nestor crossed the Florida Panhandle and sent waves of heavy rain and tornado warnings on down the West Coast, the release reports.
Still, the weekend got off to a great start, with a successful Bellamy Brothers concert on Oct. 18, despite threatening weather. The band played to a sold-out crowd in the Dan Cannon Auditorium at the Pasco County Fairgrounds.
It was the internationally known musicians’ first time back to the festival since 1968 when they performed their first musical gig with their father at the festival in San Antonio City Park, which hosted the event for a half-century before moving to the fairgrounds.
“We so appreciate the Bellamy Brothers coming to the Rattlesnake Festival this year,” Simmons said, in the release. “It was the success of their concert that offset the bad day we had on Saturday and enabled us to have our best year so far.”
Rattlesnake Run organizers had to cancel the 5-mile and 1-mile runs because of a tornado watch that was in effect at the time the race was set to begin.
The rain-or-shine festival opened on time Oct. 19 but, because of heavy rains, some vendors and entertainment groups did not set up that day.
Weather began to clear at about noon and some festival-goers turned out, but organizers realized that Nestor had put a damper on their event.
“We were hoping to exceed the 10,000 mark on visitors,” Simmons said. “I believe that if the weather had been as nice on Saturday as it was on Sunday, we may have done so.”
By the evening of Oct. 19, the rain had stopped and “Rattlesnake Festival After Dark,” an event planned with adults in mind featuring local bands, was well-attended for a first-time event.
The following day, the even opened with sunshine, and the event went well.
“The weather is the weather, that’s true everywhere, but sometimes it seems especially true in Florida,” Simmons said.
“This is our third year running the festival and our second year at the Pasco County Fairgrounds. We’re already on the schedule for next year, which is Oct. 17 and 18, by the way. We planned a great festival and we’re glad that we were still able to have a better year than last year because it’s all about raising money to buy food to feed hungry kids.”
The Thomas Promise Foundation is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing weekend meals to food-insecure students in Pasco County Schools when breakfast and lunch programs are not operating. For more information visit TheThomasPromise.org.
Published November 06, 2019