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51st annual World Championship Rattlesnake Races returns to San Patricio

Posted at 8:52 PM, Mar 17, 2023

A fundraiser to keep the history of old San Patricio alive is back after being closed for three years due to the pandemic. It’s the 51st World Championship Rattlesnake Races.

Master of Ceremonies Mark Vankirk said the historical context dates back to roughly around 1972, when the town created an organization called the San Patricio Restoration Society.

“To help provide funding for certain historical monuments that have been in this town since roughly the 1830’s,” Vankirk said.

Vankirk said the town was founded in 1836 by Irish settlers when Texas was still a part of Mexico.

Event coordinator Eric Byerley said they are trying to keep that history alive.

“The historical society’s task to preserve that history not only physically but preserve what goes along with it and those battles and everything that took place,” Byerley said.

The event is celebrated on the weekend after, or during, St. Patrick’s Day and the proceeds from the races go towards the preservation and restoration of South Texas historical monuments, like the San Patricio courthouse.

“We also have a historical museum where we have artifacts. We have a lot of history that is contained in shelving in there and displays from this area,” Byerley said.

“The Mcallen house that is over 100 years old here in old San Pat,” Vankirk said.

“We also have some homes that are from the 1800’s,” Byerley said.

For the past 50 years, the world championship rattlesnake races has been a tradition for everyone to shed some light on this fun and wild event.

“If you’ve ever heard of St. Patrick, (he's) the patron saint that ran all the snakes out of Ireland," Vankirk said. "We (the organizers) kind of put a twist on that (where) we played with them (the rattlesnakes) because he brought them here."

The 51st Annual World Championship Rattlesnake Races is happening at 20697 McGloin street in San Patricio on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 starting at 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Ticket prices for ages 5 and under are free, 6-to-12-year old’s are $5, ages3 and up are $10.

There will be more than just rattlesnake races, including food, games, live music and other fun activities.