Rattlesnake Festival
Dade City, Florida
3rd Weekend in October
Founded in 1967
The Rattlesnake Festival began as a small Jaycee project in San Antonio, Florida, in 1967. Through more than 50 years it has changed and evolved from a rattlesnake round-up and arts and crafts festival to an environmentally-conscious, family event featuring rattlesnakes, gopher tortoises and other forms of Florida wildlife. A large Arts and Crafts Village is still a main attraction as well as live entertainment.

After the 2017 festival, it appeared that the annual event would come to an end when the Rotary Club of San Antonio announced it would no longer hold the event. However the non-profit Thomas Promise Foundation from Zephyrhills stepped in to continue the festival. In order to allow the festival to grow, the venue for the annual event was moved to the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. This is now an all-weekend event that attracts thousands of people.

A popular annual event of the festival is the "Rattlesnake Run" - a five-mile adventure race along sidewalks, streets, across country, and over hills. Inaugurated in 1979, it is one of the Tampa Bay area's oldest annual events. It also includes a one-mile, pet-friendly run.

If you do expect to see rattlesnakes at the Rattlesnake Festival, you won't be disappointed. There is always a snake and reptile show where a variety of snakes, lizards, and other species are on display. You can watch handlers as they show how they catch snakes, and how venom is "milked" from poisonous snakes.

Another popular spectator activity is the wooden gopher races ... "gopher" as in gopher tortoise, that is. The 1967 version featured live gopher tortoises, but now wooden versions take the places in the races.

There are always a good number of arts and crafts vendors on hand, as well as food trucks and other concessions. Pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce houses, live bears, fair rides, soccer collies, a wild-west show and other entertainment are provided for the kids. All shows are “free” with $5 festival admission. All profits of the festival go to feeding food-insecure students through the Thomas Promise Foundation.

The Rattlesnake Festival may also include concerts featuring well-known entertainers. Be sure to check the Festival website for detailed information on special concerts and tickets.
Getting there ...
Additional resources
Note: The dates of annual events and festivals are subject to change from year to year. Before planning your trip, be sure to check the links above for the actual dates, times, and schedule of activities.