The Rattlesnake Festival, a community tradition for more than a half-century, has moved to a new locale — the Pasco County Fairgrounds.
The move from San Antonio City Park — its venue for 51 years — comes as the event’s host, The Thomas Promise Foundation, decided it was time for a roomier setting.
While shifting to the fairgrounds, many of the event’s traditions will continue.
For instance, Tony and Carol Noble, are set to open their kettle corn stand; the popular gopher tortoise races will be offered; Cowboy Tom will be there; and there’ll be a snake show, too.
The two-day event is set for Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission charge is $5, with free entry for those age 2 and younger.
Tony Noble, who was raised in San Antonio, reflected on what made the festival special to him as a kid, such as the races and the grilled barbecue chicken dinners.
The festival has evolved over time, but many of activities he grew up with will be offered this year, he said.
Jim Mendenhall’s snake show is one of those longstanding festival features. The Squamata Reptile show provides a chance for people to learn about snakes and other reptiles, and to see them in action, too.
The Croc Encounters crocodile show, will be there, too, and so will Florida Fish and Wildlife’s demonstration. There will be a petting zoo and pony rides for the kids.
Cowboy Tom will saddle up on his horse for his Wild West Show, and children will have the opportunity to compete their wooden turtles in the Gopher Race.
A $15 wristband will allow visitors unlimited fair rides, and individual tickets can be purchased for one-time rides.
Vendors will offer food, crafts and other items for purchase.
Miss Pasco County Courtney Graham will open the festival with the national anthem Saturday at 9:45 a.m.
Other live performances will include Jesse and Noah Bellamy, Johnny Shelton and the Showstoppers.
The 40th Rattlesnake Run will remain at San Antonio Park and take place on Oct. 20 at 8 a.m.
Participants can choose the 1-mile or 5-mile run and are welcome to bring their dogs.
Proceeds from the festival and run will go toward The Thomas Promise Foundation, which distributes more than 1,200 food bags to Pasco County students on Friday, so children don’t go hungry over the weekend.
The organization decided to take over the annual festival after the San Antonio Rotary Club celebrated the festival’s 50th anniversary in 2016.
“We were very successful last year,” said Joe Simmons, executive director of the foundation. “We raised enough funds to be able to provide over 40,000 meals to kids within our program.”
The Thomas Promise Foundation will co-host this year’s run with the Zephyrhills High School cross-country team and the I Play Track Foundation.
A portion of the funds collected from the run will go toward a member of the school’s cross-country team who is suffering from bone cancer.
Where: Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52 in Dade City
When: Oct. 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Oct 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $5 admission; free for those age 2 and younger
Details: Vendors, live performances, animals and food
Info: Contact Joe Simmons at (813) 782-0000 or , or visit RattlesnakeFestival.com.
PUblished October 17, 2018