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Snake handler eyes world record

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Posted: Saturday, February 26, 2011 12:00 pm

By Holly Wise

Killeen Daily Herald

Sitting in a bathtub with more than 120 captured rattlesnakes is not something the average person would sign up for, which makes world-famous rattlesnake handler Jackie Bibby extraordinary.

Today, Bibby will attempt to break a world record by sitting in a bathtub with more than 120 rattlesnakes during Oglesby's annual Rattlesnake Hunt and Arts and Crafts Show, an event produced by Bibby.

Adding to the drama will be an Animal Planet film crew.

"We are filming him as part of a pilot for our network," said an Animal Planet spokesman, who requested anonymity. "He's one of several subjects for the show."

The network is in the process of gathering video footage that may be used in an Animal Planet series at a later time, the spokesman added.

"We're going to be having a good time doing education as well as daredevil stuff to please the crowd," Bibby said.

The Rising Star native has been handling rattlesnakes since he got his start at a rattlesnake roundup in Brownwood.

"I was 18 years old and quite a thrill-seeker," he said. "The rest is history because I've been doing it for 43 years."

Of the 40 rattlesnake roundups that once existed in Texas, only seven have survived; Bibby produces four of them.

Bibby said members of the Heart of Texas Snake Handlers will be on hand to wow the crowd.

Bibby has been bitten nine times, and he said he's been near death as a result of some of them.

"I'm doing a controlled-fear type of activity," he said. "Sure, I'm nervous, but I'm able to control it in such a way that I'm able to pull it off. It's an adrenaline-producing sport."

Bibby will perform today and Sunday at the Oglesby Community Center. His world record attempt will take place at 2 or 3 p.m. today.

Mike Walter, an organizer for the event, said the two-day festival draws a large crowd.

Breakfast will be provided by the Oglesby 4-H club from 7 to 10 a.m. both days. The first snake demonstration is scheduled for 10 a.m. today and will take place every hour.

Bluegrass bands, wagon rides, a rock-climbing wall, an antique tractor show and vendors also will be featured at the event. The volunteer fire department will cook barbecue.

Admission is $3. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. All proceeds benefit the Oglesby Lions Club.

"This is our big fundraiser and what Oglesby looks forward to every year," Walter said. "It's the main event of the year."

If you go

What: Rattlesnake Hunt and Arts and Crafts Show

Where: Oglesby Community Center

When: Today and Sunday

Cost: $3; free admission for children 5 and younger

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