As I describe more fully in my "local custom tips", the South is still very much cognizant of the US Civil War, or as it's called here, "the War of Northern Aggression". Most long-time southern families have relatives who served in the Confederate Armies.
Many people mistakenly feel that the whole point of the American Civil War was slavery, and that is not true. It was about economics and states-rights. The South favored a less-solid national union, with individual states having more control of their destiny. Slavery was an immediate part of it, but only because the southern agricultural economy depended heavily on slave labor at the time. As it did in most other parts of the world, slavery would have disappeared from the South even if the Confederacy had prevailed.
Many people forget that England and France supported, albeit weakly, the southern states in their war against the North.
Anyway, the point of this tip is that the South is still proud and they honor the sacrifices made by both sides in the darkest chapter of American history....the four years when brother fought brother.
In the accompanying photo, you see a reporter and cameraman from the national FOX television network interviewing one of the visitors to the Rattlesnake Roundup.
Although it's just a small town item, the Rattlesnake Roundup does have a degree of quirky fame all over the country.
Fondest memory: Watching this interviewee's nervous twitch while he was being interviewed by the news crew. You could tell he was far from comfortable. I never got to see the shot on television, but I'm sure he did fine.
As is the case at any festival, there are all sorts of activities for kids and adults alike to enjoy. Taking part in all of them can empty your wallet in a heartbeat. But, this little guy (in the photo) managed to pry $7 out of his dad's pocket to do some "bungee bouncing"...basically like a bungee jump without the danger of falling a couple hundred feet first.
Fondest memory: Watching the kids beg their parents for money in order to gain a round of bungee bouncing. My daughter is more into snakes than bouncing around with ropes tied to her, so I got away from free. : )
Also, watching this kid flip around and jump was fun. He truly had a blast.
Like everywhere else in the world, Whigham has Boy Scouting. The organization, founded in the early 20th century by Lord Baden-Powell, has offered many opportunities to both boys and girls all over the world.
Scouts are always involved in drives to raise money, both for their troops' supply and for charity. In south Georgia, let's just say they do things differently.... (see below)
Fondest memory: As I said, it's not unusual to see Scouts raising funds in various ways. There are cookie sales, car washes, lawn projects....all sorts of ways to earn cash.
South Georgia is a different world, folks. See the guy holding the gun in the photo? He's the scoutmaster. This troop was selling raffle tickets, giving customers a chance to win this "pump action 12 gauge shotgun". See, I told you south Georgia was different.
BTW, I didn't buy a raffle ticket for two reasons...
First, I thought the price of $5 per chance was a little high. Last year, I paid $5 for a raffle ticket at the Roundup, but the prize was a beautifully-restored 1957 Dodge sedan...a car!
And the second reason? I already have a shotgun. Remember, I'm a southerner....and the South is different.
There are always plenty of livestock and horse operations hanging around the Rattlesnake Roundup, offering festival visitors a chance for a pony or horse ride.
And in some cases, they'll saddle you up something bigger than a horse. As you can see in the accompanying picture, THIS lady got more than she bargained for when she paid for "a picture in the saddle".
Could we say that the photographer was truly "shooting the bull"?
Fondest memory: Seeing this giggling lady saddled up on a big old south Georgia bull. The bull was pretty disinterested, treating the situation as if she were only a fly.
She seemed pretty nervous, and only stayed on long enough for the obligatory photo. It'd probably make a great Christmas card, don't you think? Heheheheh..
I always enjoy listening to the varieties of music being played at southern festivals such as Whigham's Rattlesnake Roundup. As you'd expect, there are always country and bluegrass groups playing music very much native to the deep South. And as you can see in the accompanying photo, there is a little world beat being sounded at the Rattlesnake Roundup, too. The fellow in the photo was from Peru.
Fondest memory: The Peruvian flute player, the rock and roll band(s) and the fiddle (that's the southern word for violin) players.
Most everyone at the Roundup is having a good time, so you see almost nothing but smiling faces. However, if you'd like to brighten your face even more, you might consider spending a couple of dollars to get some colorful artwork added to your cheek. My daughter loves doing so, and we always have to stop and get something added to her cosmetic scheme for the day.
Fondest memory: Seeing how the addition of a dolphin and a rattlesnake face painting made my daughter's smile even brighter.
The folks in Whigham do a great job of designing a colorful logo and t-shirt for each year's Roundup. The OFFICIAL shifts tend to sell out quickly, so I'd advise that visitors who'd like a t-shirt or sweatshirt should head immediately to the Roundup headquarters, located in the middle of the Whigham Civic Grounds, to buy their souvenir.
Also, these items are NOT overpriced, as is often the case at tourist events. If I remember, we paid about $10 for this t-shirt. Long sleeved sweatshirts are $17, again if I remember correctly. All were very good quality, US-made shirts.
Fondest memory: The people at the Roundup headquarters building are always so very nice. They're honestly happy that you've chosen to spend your Saturday with them in Whigham. They'll talk to you like you're an old friend for as long as you'd like, whether you buy anything or not.
I enjoy watching the snake handlers work with the snakes. I can't imagine what their first time must have been like. I would have been terrified.
One thing is apparent, though.... when you're holding a rattlesnake, or any other venomous creature, be decisive. Hang on tight! He who hesitates is lost.....or in this case, bitten.
Fondest memory: The hand in the photo belongs to Randy Campbell, who was one of the resident rattlesnake experts at this year's Roundup. He was very patient and informative, spending quite a bit of his "down time" talking with us about snakes. This photo was taken between public demonstrations, and I did NOT use a telephoto lens. So, you can see we were able to get up and close to these beautiful and deadly snakes.
Randy is also the fellow holding the rattler in the photo on my opening shot for this page.
The whole point of visiting the Rattlesnake roundup is to get up close and personal with the scary rattlesnake. The roundup features both the Eastern Diamondback and Timber varieties of rattlesnake. (Some folks in the south call the Timber rattler a "canebreak" rattlesnake)
Fondest memory: I always enjoy watching the professional handlers as they deal with these beautiful but highly dangerous creatures.
One of the best things about Whigham and south Georgia has to be the barbecue. And, great southern barbecue requires great HOMEMADE sauces.
The fellow on the left in the picture below is Leon Fulmer, and he markets several varieties of his own barbecue sauce. He will send it to your home, and I highly recommend that you give it a try. There are several different flavors, which Leon will describe when you e-mail him. But in my opinion, the best choice is the medium red sauce. It's spicy, but not flaming hot. It has a little sweetness to it, too. C'mon folks....if you've never tried real homemade southern barbecue sauce, get with Leon and check it out. You'll never be satisfied with the crap at the supermarket anymore. : )
CONTACT LEON IN THE FOLLOWING MANNERS...
L&C Enterprises, Leon Fuller
179 Clifton Drive,
Moultrie, Georgia 31768 USA
Be sure to tell Leon that "the guy who took his picture holding the barbecue sauce" said hello.
Fondest memory: Among my fondest memories were my talk with Leon Fulmer about his barbecue sauces. I gave several of them a try, and my recommendation is that you buy the medium red sauce.
I think Leon charges US$3.95 per bottle for his sauces. You can probably get it cheaper by the case, but that's a lotta barbecue to be eating. : )