While the rattlesnakes are always considered to be the main attraction at the annual Lone Star Fair and Expo, at this year’s 53rd annual event they had to share the main stage with Gator Country’s Gary Saurage, who has been featured on everything from Animal Planet to CMT.

So it’s no surprise that when Saurage took the stage shortly after lunchtime on Saturday, a massive crowd gathered around to check out what long time reptile handler had to offer.

Considering the fact that admission to the event was only $5 for adults, just about everyone who was there to see the hour-plus long show would agree that Saurage alone was well worth the price. In fact, it was impossible to find one person who would argue otherwise. Those in attendance were not disappointed by Saurage’s show by any stretch of the imagination.

It was quite the opposite, actually.

Saurage isn’t only an expert in the reptile field, but he’s also an entertainer. That much was definitely clear as he had the entire gathering of people doing anything from laughing at his jokes to shrieking in fright when he brought out certain members of the animal kingdom such as snakes and alligators.

People of all ages were all zoned into Saurage’s on-stage activities and antics from start to finish and the post-show chatter was nothing but positive.

“I was amazed at all the animals that he kept bringing out,” said John Maudin, who traveled from the Cross Plains area to attend the event. “I actually didn’t know that he was going to be here. I’ve seen him on television in the past, on one of those alligator shows, so when we got here and saw the flyer with his name on it, we were very excited. The show was great. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but I knew that he knew his stuff from seeing him on TV. He taught us a lot about snakes and alligators especially.”

That was even the case from those who weren’t aware of Saurage either.

“Honestly I had no clue who he was before today, but now I do and now I know he’s crazy,” Brownwood resident Tyler Ramos said while laughing. “He’s crazy for sure, but I loved watching him. That was wild. I’m not going to lie, I jumped a few times, but it was a lot of fun watching him do all these things with these animals that can basically kill you. Like I said, he’s crazy. Crazy, but fun to watch.”

“I didn’t know much about him but I know that he put on one heck of a show with those animals,” said Jason Reed, an Abilene resident who was visiting the area. “I’ve been to a few of these rattlesnake deals like this, but this was by far the best thing I’ve seen at any of them. I enjoyed getting to see more than just rattlesnakes. To me that’s what made it stand out. I like seeing the other dangerous animals. I liked it quite a bit. That’s what would make me come back.”

Other attendees weren’t so enthusiastic about the reptiles who shared the stage with their owner. At the same time, though, those same attendees will gladly admit that they were entertained.

“I’m not a fan of snakes or anything like that,” explained Rhonda Jansen of Brownwood. “I guess that would include alligators or basically anything else that can hurt you. I will say we had a good time watching it. He makes it fun and very educational. Me and my kids learned a lot. I guess that’s what is the most important. I still don’t care for the snakes though.”

What drew the biggest ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the crowd was Saurage’s finale. After seeing everything from small turtles to large tortoises to snakes, Saurage brought out a 10-foot alligator that isn’t exactly tame by any stretch of the imagination.

“It was scary, but so much fun,” said 10-year-old Wyatt Mathis. “Me and all my friends were scared when he was snapping and jumping around. It was awesome. We wanted to see more of it We thought it was the best part of everything that he did when he was on stage. It was so cool”

The fun at the Lone Star Fair and Expo continues Sunday, with doors opening at noon and closing at 5 p.m. at the Brownwood Coliseum.