It's a popular, but also controversial folk festival, where many participants don't get away with their skin intact: the annual rattlesnake show in the small town of Sweetwater, Texas. Thousands of visitors came again at the weekend to see and admire the poisonous snakes - and to eat their meat. The program also included a beauty pageant, as well as competitions for the heaviest and the longest line. Animal rights activists have been protesting against the event for years.
Photos showed Trinity McGee, winner of the Miss Snake Charmer pageant, peeling the skin off an adult rattlesnake. Snakes were milked on special devices to obtain their venom for research or the production of antidotes. Elsewhere, visitors licked their fingers for fried rattlesnakes, whose pale meat is remotely comparable to that of poultry.
According to the organizers, the world's largest rattlesnake show took place for the 65th time this year. It is accompanied by a fun fair. Every year on the second weekend in March, the number of people in the town of 11,000, located around 350 kilometers west of Dallas, rises to 40,000, according to the website.
The environmental organization Center for Biological Diversity describes snake festivals like the one in Sweetwater as "cruel and antiquated" and calls for their ban. According to her own statements, she had achieved last year that another festival - in Whigham in the state of Georgia - was made "wild animal-friendly" for the first time in 2022.