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Thousands of visitors, snakes converge on Apache for annual Rattlesnake Festival

APACHE — The highest concentration of snakes can be found in Apache this weekend during the town’s 36th annual Apache Rattlesnake Festival.

You won’t find Indiana Jones here, but longtime fangmaster and festival organizer Ron Orf said you’ll find probably 30,000 or more people in the community each day this weekend. Amazing weather, an active Easter weekend of activities and the fear — or fascination — of snakes will bring out what could be record-setting crowds.

“We had a good first day Thursday with a lot of people out here,” Orf said. “I expect good crowds the whole time. We’ll have 30,000 or more going through downtown.”

Orf is usually found in the middle of the Snake Pit — one of the most popular attractions of the snake festival — surrounded by hundreds of dangerous rattlesnakes. He stepped aside this year, letting brother Mike Orf take center stage. But you can never get Orf too far from the snakes. He’s sitting at a table near the pit, selling and signing copies of his new book, “I Walk Among Rattlesnakes,” which tells the story of his longtime fascination and interactions with the venomous reptiles.

“I’ve been working on it for several years,” Orf said. “Last year, I was finally able to sit down and finish it and a friend of mine here published it.”

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