APACHE — The Town of Apache is luring people into town this weekend for the 39th annual Apache Rattlesnake Festival.
There are other attractions of course — a popular flea market, food vendors, dancers, musicians presenting concerts, carnival rides, a rodeo — but the real focus today through Sunday remains firmly where it has been for almost 40 years: rattlesnakes.
And Apache has gone out of its way to give visitors the full experience with the slithery reptiles. You can see them in the pits, watching handlers as they expertly wrangle them and, perhaps, putting you closer than you want to be to a live rattlesnake. If you are adventurous, you can sample fried rattlesnake meat in the snack shack, or buy some fresh meat to fry up yourself at home. If you are really, really adventurous, you can hunt them, courtesy of guided hunts led by the professionals.
If you are interested, the guided hunts are planned for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Registration for the hunts begins an hour before each hunt on the stage in the festival area in downtown Apache. The snake pit, fried snake shack and butcher shop are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
If snakes aren’t your thing, festival organizers have planned a variety of other activities to hold your attention. You’d better hurry: the festival actually began Thursday, so there’s only three more days to enjoy the music, watch Native American dancers, play on the midway, munch on funnel cakes and other festival food, or shop for bargains at the flea market. Saturday also will offer the Best Dressed Cowgirl and Cowboy contest at 10 a.m., before the Rafter G. Bulls & Barrels opens at 2 p.m. in the Apache Rodeo Arena (the rodeo repeats at 2 p.m. Sunday). The rodeo will offer an array of events for all skill levels, from a critter scramble for kids and mutton bustin’, to open broncos, open barrels and women’s pro bull riding.
The Apache Rattlesnake Festival is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Apache. Admission is free. Information is available at 588-2880.