The crowd at Saturday’s 54th annual Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup was far less than the 12,000 people who usually attend.
The weather is being blamed. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees, with a brisk wind and an overcast sky.
“A lot of people I talked to, they were really tired of the cold,” said Greg Ponder, president of the Whigham Community Club, which sponsors the Roundup. “It was not a nice day to be outside.”
Ponder estimated about 4,500 people attended the daylong event.
This year’s Roundup was different in two areas: An educational presentation about reptiles replaced the traditional snake ring, and the Community Club did not purchase snakes delivered by hunters.
The 73 rattlesnakes brought to the Roundup were bought by Randy Campbell, a Tennessee resident.
In the past the Community Club bought the serpents and sold them. This year, the rattlers were purchased directly by Campbell from snake hunters.
Ponder said Campbell will sell the rattlesnake meat and use the hides for belts and boots.
Campbell also furnishes some snakes to zoos and universities where the reptiles are researched, and medicine is produced from the serpents’ venom.
Hunters are paid $10 a foot for eastern diamondback rattlers and $7 a foot for canebrakes, or timber, rattlers.
The R&R Hunting Cub, a Grady County organization, turned in the largest rattlesnake at 5.5 feet long and weighing 5.5 pounds. Delivering the biggest snake reaped a monetary prize of $100.
“They (R&R) also had the most snakes. They had 28,” Ponder said. For that distinction, the club received $200.
Craig Meyers, of Adel, came in second in the number of snakes taken to the Roundup and garnered a $100 prize.
“All of his were canebrakes,” Ponder said.
Tommy Cobb, a longtime Moultrie snake hunter, came in third with nine rattlers and received a $50 prize.
Proceeds from the Roundup go to Whigham School projects and to the local Boy Scout troop.
Ponder said club members will meet next week to evaluate this year’s event and to discuss plans for the 2015 Roundup.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.