The Apache Rattlesnake Festival Is This Weekend In SW Oklahoma
If you are the type of person that complains that there's "nothing to do here" in Southwest Oklahoma, your weekend plans just landed in your lap.
The Apache Rattlesnake Festival is a traditional rattlesnake roundup where the entire town transforms into a metropolitan area for one weekend while the population swells. Thousands of people embark on a journey for one reason, to see who managed to wrangle the biggest rattlesnake in the area... granted, I'm sure the rattlesnakes come from far and wide all over our piece of rural America.
Oklahoma is home to eight venomous species of snakes and rattlesnakes make up the majority of them. Most famous is the Western Diamondback rattler we're all familiar with through movies and pop culture. This is the species you'll find most often at a rattlesnake roundup and the most common species of rattlesnake found around Lawton, especially in the mountains.
While they're uncommon in our corner of the state, it's not impossible to run across a Timber Rattlesnake on this side of I-35.
The Quartz Mountains north of Altus house a decent population of the terrifying Western Massaugua Rattlesnake. They're shockingly small for as potent as their venom typically is.
The Prairie Rattlesnake lives on the far western fringes of Oklahoma, out towards the Texas state line from the Red River up through the Oklahoma Panhandle. Named so because it prefers to exist in the great expanse of prairie you'll find out that way.
The last species of native Oklahoma rattler is the one I'm most afraid of... the tiny Western Pygmy Rattlesnake. They're beautifully colored in earth tones with little spots of vibrant orange, but they're nearly impossible to see due to their size and even though they're a species of rattlesnake, you likely won't hear the warning if you get too close to one.
If you're curious, the world record for the largest western diamondback rattlesnake ever caught is officially seven-foot-long... though I remember one Apache Rattlesnake Festival where they may have had one a few inches longer a few years ago. Don't challenge me on that, the memory is a little hazy.
All the festivities will get started on April 14th in Apache and roll through Sunday the 17th. Be sure to carve out some time to go experience what may be a once-in-a-lifetime event for you. In the event you see a kid carrying a big fat rattlesnake down the road like a puppy, don't freak out... They remove their fangs and sew their mouths shut. It may be somewhat cruel, but being pampered and getting pets before being turned into a belt is probably the best way to go.