This year’s Rattlesnake Festival started off with a bang.
That is because Darby’s own musical siblings, The Bellamy Brothers, kicked off the 53rd annual festival off with a very special, Oct. 18 evening concert, marking the first time the musicians played the festival in decades.
Hundreds packed the Dan Cannon Auditorium at the Pasco County Fairgrounds to hear Howard Bellamy and his brother, David, perform some of their biggest hits including, “Redneck Girl,” “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body,” and, of course, their signature song, “Let Your Love Flow.” They also mixed in some tracks off of their newest album, “Over the Moon,” released earlier this year.
The brothers got their first taste in performing in front of an audience at the 1968 festival, then known as the ‘Rattlesnake Roundup,’ when they performed on stage, for free, with their father.
This year, the sold-out concert raised money for the festival’s host, The Thomas Promise Foundation.
After the concert, the regular festival days were Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52 in Dade City.
Over the course of the weekend, thousands flocked to the site to enjoy a wide array of activities, wildlife shows, exhibits, bounce houses and other attractions.
There were carnival rides and games, and the chance to hold a real, live alligator.
Vendors were there selling handmade crafts, and businesses were there touting their products and services.
Hungry festival-goers also had plenty of choices at the food court area, including corn dogs, soft pretzels, gyros, pizza, funnel cakes and fresh lemonade.
Of course, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without watching the traditional Eddie Herrmann Wooden Gopher Tortoise Races, geared toward kids, 12 and under.
The races, which use mechanical wooden gopher tortoises, were held throughout each day, for age groups 7 and under, and 8 through 12.
First-, second- and third-place winners from each race earned a ribbon, and the first-place winners were eligible to compete for a trophy in the championship games.
The races were named after Eddie Herrmann, one of the festival’s founders, who passed away hours after the close of the first day of the 51st festival in 2017.
Published October 23, 2019