The 54th Lone Star Fair and Expo Rattlesnake Roundup kicks off 3 p.m. Friday with the Jaycees Rattlesnake Corps and Gator Country of Beaumont giving lessons on area reptiles and more.
While rattlesnakes have traditionally been the primary topic each year, Gator Country will return to the Brownwood Coliseum and owner Gary Saurage said those attending Saturday’s 1 p.m. performance will see a much different show during the 6 p.m. performance and the same applies to the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday performances.
“We brought so many (reptiles), we’ll be changing up the shows while we’re here,” Saurage said. “If you see one show, it may be different than the next … Buy your stamp in the morning, and you can keep coming through that door all day long.”
Saurage and Landon Schulze of the Jaycees Rattlesnake Corps dropped by the Bulletin office Thursday to show some of the reptiles on display this weekend, which includes a variety of venomous and non-venomous snakes, turtles, alligators and more.
“We’re going to surprise the crowd so it’s different from last year,” Saurage said. “At the end of our show is the big animal. We measured it at 10-foot-3-inches and it weights right at 500 pounds. It’s a big alligator. He’ll be un-taped and we’ll let him pop his jaws and swing his tail … We also brought different species of turtles to teach the kids about.”
During the visit to the Bulletin, Schulze brought his pet rattlesnakes Bert and Ernie, and discussed rattlesnakes in the wild and what to do if they’re encountered. Schulze said much of the focus this weekend regards species native to Texas and may help children and adults avoid a dangerous encounter with a rattler.
    “I don’t care which of the 50 states you go through, you may encounter more than one different species of rattlesnakes,” Schulze said. “There are more than 31 species and sub-specious of rattlesnakes alone. At our show we always push, if you’re a kid do not pick up a snake … It’s education everybody needs. We’re in their world.”
    Along with his demonstrations, which will run throughout the day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Schulze said he intends to bring back an annual crowd favorite with a twist. In the past, Schulze laid in a sleeping bag while volunteers loaded it with rattlesnakes. This year, Schulze said he plans to do the same stunt, but instead of loading from his feet he will have the bag inverted.
    “We’ll be doing an inverted sleeping bag, which I will go in head first,” Schulze said. “… We’re going to have a variety of things for everyone to see. It will be very entertaining.”
    The Lone Star Fair and Expo is one of the primary fundraisers for the Brownwood Jaycees, a leadership training and civic organization for citizens between 18 and 41 years old and stresses business development, management skills, individual training, community service and international connections.
    The fair runs 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 four children under 13.