Rounding Up Sweetwater

“Rattlesnakes are symbols of freedom and independence; teaching that snakes are scary and useless minimizes their significance in our cultural and ecological heritage.”

— Jeffrey J. Smith, Co-founder ASP

Rounding Up Sweetwater

Rattlesnakes are fascinating, beautiful, but often feared and misunderstood creatures. They are also the victims of the largest public slaughter of native wildlife in the United States. Our feature-length documentary, Rounding Up Sweetwater, will debunk both the pseudo-science used to justify roundups as well as negative stereotypes about rattlesnakes used to demonize them. But perhaps most importantly, we will show there’s a better way, that it is possible to stop slaughtering snakes without losing their festivals or the income they generate.

Rounding Up Sweetwater started out as a short student film project to capture the world’s largest rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater, Texas. But there is much more to the story that we need to tell. After seeing firsthand what goes on in Sweetwater every year, we know there is a better way.

People of the small town of Claxton, Georgia transformed their rattlesnake roundup into the Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival, a festival where they promote conservation and education instead of fear and misconceptions.

Sweetwater, TX Rattlesnake Roundup

  • The holding pit where thousands of snakes await processing
  • A Sweetwater Jaycee holding up a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Sweetwater "Snake Safety Demonstration"
  • Western Diamondback being prepped for handling
  • Live rattlesnake being stretched for measuring
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake on the chopping block
  • Headless rattlesnakes ready for skinning by public
  • Headless rattlesnake on skinning platform
  • After the chopping block volunteers process the bodies
  • Wall displaying bloody handprints after skinning snakes

Claxton, GA Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival

  • Large Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake on display with the Central Florida Zoo
  • Crowd reaction to the Lets Get Wild Education Show
  • Birds of Prey Educational Show
  • Director of Rounding Up Sweetwater in his element
  • Educational Specimens on display from CHEHAW
  • Endangered Florida Pine Snake on display with the Orianne Society
  • Director Jeremy Pelsinski taking a moment to teach about snakes
  • Former President of the Evans County Wildlife Club Bruce Purcell giving an interview
  • Local celebrity Freight Train shaking hands with Director Jeremy Pelsinski
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake as part of the Lets Get Wild Educational Show