April 27, 2009

Rattlesnake Derby ‘wholesome’

Organizers of the 44th annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby in Oklahoma said the event was aimed at educating people about the venomous snakes.

The organizers said the three-day derby, which ended Sunday, annually draws an estimated 35,000 visitors to Magnum to catch, kill and learn about Western diamondback rattlesnakes, USA Today reported Monday.

Kerry Kendall, co-director of the event, said every attraction is something you can bring your 4-year-old to.

It's a wholesome, clean weekend, Kendall said. We call (the Butcher Shop) the only strip show in Greer County.

The derby's Butcher Shop featured snakes being beheaded, gutted and skinned for onlookers while Robert Ray, 57, and Corry Kendall, 24, talked about the dangers even a dead snake can pose to humans when its post-mortem reflexes cause its fangs to bite down.

Visitor Joann Delbosque said she brought her 6-year-old daughter, Samantha, to the event to learn how to be safe around rattlesnakes.

She has to see it in order to believe it, Delbosque said. I want her to know that only professionals play with these snakes.