If there is one event that could truly sum up the essence of South Texas, we have found it: Rattlesnake Round Up!!!!!!!!(You should read this with a monster truck announcer them in your head by the way)In the year that I have lived in South Texas, I have come to understand that there are 3 pillars that make up what Texans call a good time. The first and probably most important one is beer, the colder and cheaper the better. Beer works as a social lubricant that ties together Latino and “’Merican” culture. For example, take brisket; a fine cut of beef that Texans love to cook slow and low. Now, take a taco; a true staple in Latino food. Blend them together and you have a south Texan original. The second pillar is Texas Country music, which is not this high polished tight jean wearing stuff we all think of. It is completely normal for the music down here to be a blend of Mariachi and country that somehow flows together quite well. The last pillar that is a true necessity to get people together down here is pure danger.
The Rattlesnake Round up in Freer Texas is a quintessential example of a good time down here, and we loved every minute of it. It was about an hour and half from where we live. One of the best parts of taking a road trip in South Texas is the fact that most of land is divided into hunting ranches, which by themselves is nothing exciting but many ranchers down here fly in large African game to their private ranches, which adds a safari like quality to your road trip. It is quite normal to see gems brook or kudu while driving around, this trip was no different.
When we finally arrived, we pulled into a large dirt lot. As always the wind was gusting up to 30 miles an hour, so the air consisted of a nice brown tinge that immediately covered you in a fine layer of sand and dirt. We heard gun fire as soon as we opened our door. Shocked by this we made our way through the parking lot, paid an entry fee and went to see all of the commotion. It was a Wild West reenactment, with hard looking men wearing some serious mustaches shooting at each other with blanks (pillar 3). We met our friends, by the entry gate they had drinks in hand (pillar 1).
We went straight to the rattle snake pit. Inside this pit of doom (at least that’s what I call it) were about 30 rattlesnakes that ranged from 1 to 4 feet in length. You might be thinking in your head HAHA! Pillar 3 but no, sadly that was not the dangerous part. Pillar 3 was the fact that the men inside this pit would grab random pissed off rattlesnakes (their demeanor was quite evident by the rattling) by their head and tail and would drape them over little children for their parents to snap a quick photo (pillar 3). Call me crazy but growing up in the suburbs of west Chicago, if someone saw a man who looked fresh out of Deliverance wrap your small child in a rattlesnake and you smiled and took a photo, there is little doubt in my mind that child protective services would be on speed dial somewhere.
After about ten minutes of staring in utter disbelief, we made our way to the rest of the festival. I know you are all wondering if we had a snake wrapped around us for a photo, but sadly we did not. This seemed to be a privilege reserved for the youth…..after all a rattlesnake bite is only mildly life threatening to an adult the true danger lies with the children! Past the snake pit was a flea market filled with wonderful trinkets, rattle snake belts, wallets, key chains with rattle or head your choice, hair clip, bracelet, boots, note pad cover and just your good old snake head in alcohol. Nothing really jumped out to me or Sara as being our style so we just passed on by.
At the end of flea market was a crowd gathered of mostly children clapping. Deep down inside of me I knew something truly unique and strange was coming my way, disappointment did not follow. There was a monkey, the same kind you see in outbreak (pillar 3). He was on a chain, wearing a banana coat with a sombrero, and for only 1 dollar (which the monkey would collect from you) you could allow your child to step into the ring with the monkey and he would climb up your kid sit on his or her shoulder and you could again take a photo.
We made our way to the beer tent (pillar 1) by the stage, where some country band was in a full on jam session (pillar 2) then to the food tent where I was enlightened on a new favorite food, the brisket taco covered in Pico de gallo. As I sat down eating my meaty treat, I looked around and took in the environment as a whole. Kids running around throwing fireworks at each other (pillar 3….again), dancing, eating and drinking, throw in a shady looking carnival in the background (my wife and I rode the Zipper, and if you have to ask just what that ride is, you have truly never lived….or almost died). It was really just a good ol’American shindig and we loved every minute of it!
Do you guys have any crazy festival stories? (or texas stories? 🙂 )