For Brownwood resident Tammy Telles and the three girls with her, Saturday's outing at the Lone Star Fair and Expo — also known as the Rattlesnake Roundup — was a "girls day."
Telles, daughter Mia McCorkle, 9, niece Mary Cook, 5, and a neighbor's child, Faith Rice, 9, were among hundreds of spectators as they watched the main attraction — Western diamondback rattlesnakes and the handlers who showed their skills and wits in a snake pit as they walked among the reptiles, picked them up, showed off their fangs and rattlers and gave informational talks about the rattlers.
The expo concludes Sunday. The Rattlesnake Roundup is presented each year by the Brownwood Jaycees.
"We're having a girls day," Telle said. "We thought we'd stop and check out the roundup, and we're headed for the carnival."
One of the snake handlers, Bennie Bible, dangled a portion of a snake's body over the edge of Pexiglass — tail first — and walked around the edge of the pit, allowing those who were close enough to reach up and touch the reptile.
A rattlesnake isn't "slimy or icky," but feels like leather, narrator Tim Swan said, standing in the snake pit and holding a microphone.
Faith didn't quite agree. She touched the snake and proclaimed it as "gross."
"Snake and taters" were on the menu at a food booth, Swan reminded spectators. When asked if Telles and the girls were going to sample some snake, Telles replied, "I don't know. What do y'all think?" All three girls shook their heads "no."
"Texas Snakeman" Jackie Bibby, who was expected to be at the Rattlesnake Roundup Saturday, was unable to attend. Other handlers said Bibby was bitten by a rattlesnake at his home in Rising Star Friday night and was being treated at Brownwood Regional Medical Center.
Inside the snake pit, Swan reminded specters "don't try this at home" as Landon Schulze shared a sleeping bag with a large group of rattlers, held several snakes at the same time by their tails and allowed rattlers to crawl across his lower body.
"It's not that he's not afraid of them," Swan said of Schulze. "He's controlling his fear."
Brownwood Jayees president Stephanie Smith took a seating position as she allowed numerous rattlers to crawl across her lower body.
"I've known this woman a long time," Swan said. "She's got ice water in her veins … it takes a special breed of person to do this."
When asked what it felt like to have the snakes crawling on her, Smith replied simply, "like snakes."