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Rattlesnakes, Jazz Clubs, Rooftop Dining and Dive Bars. Journey out west to ole' Sweetwater, TX

Updated: May 9, 2020

The WKNDR Snapshot

1. Friday Night Dinner & Drinks After

  • Reata - Ft. Worth

  • Scat Jazz Lounge

2. Saturday Morning Coffee

  • Vaquero Coffee Company

3. Lunch

  • Snack, Snacks and Snacks

4. Funtivities

  • Sweetwater, TX - Rattlesnake Roundup

5. Dinner in Abilene, TX

  • R Sports Bar and Grill

6. Sunday Late Brunch

  • Ft. Worth, TX - The Woodshed.

One Friday afternoon in March of last year we decided to get a head start on our trip to the one-of-a-kind Rattle Snack Roundup in Sweetwater, Tx by heading to Ft. Worth for the evening. Around dinner time we checked into the newly remodeled Worthington Renaissance Hotel, changed our clothes and headed out on the town. Though a little chilly, we decided to try our luck at one of the most beautiful bars in DFW. The roof top of the Reata Restaurant near Sundance Square. We luckily were able to score two seats at the bar, where we cheered to our trip and shared drinks in this truly wonderful atmosphere. If you have never been, it is worth an evening in Ft. Worth; it's truly spectacular. Even the food is good!

After dinner, we head through a couple of small alleys in downtown Ft. Worth and make our way to Scat Jazz Lounge, where traditional be-bop was on display.

The crowed was lively, the drinks were great and the music was top notch. What a fun evening and a great start to this trip. Shortly after returning to our room still reeling from the intensity of the music, we come to the stark realization that Michal no longer has her phone and it must be back at the Jazz lounge. We quickly head out once again… making it to Scat in record time, give a quick nod to the bouncer as we rush in and find it on foot pedestal under the bar. Crisis Averted.

The next morning I head out and leave Michal to her beauty sleep; walked over to Vaquero Coffee Company right around the corner from our hotel. Since it was not crowded at first, I was able to chat with the owner and barista and then as I finally get my laptop set up to get some work started, a singer/song writer takes the stage and lights up the room. Great people, great coffee, great music… definitely a hidden gem of Ft. Worth that coffee lovers should flock to.

An hour later I head back to the room, greet Michal, check out, then head further West. Our breakfast consists of snacks and drinks from QuikTrip. We were on a mission: a mission to see some rattlesnakes. Arriving just after noon, we parked in one of the many front yards with a parking sign out front and made our way down the rustic West Texas streets to the large pavilions looming in the distance. We found the line for tickets, and waited for what seemed like way too long for Sweetwater, Tx, and finally were able to enter.

Stepping into the exhibition hall we were immediately struck by a loud, consistent high pitched buzzing. It was the hum of the rattle snakes' rattlers. No Joke. Come to find out the largest rattle snake pit was on the other side of the auditorium 100 yards away. We could hear them perfectly.

As with any Texas fair or trade show, there were the typical vendors of knifes, bejeweled t-shirts, Scentsy warmers and random household gadgets, which we scanned through enthusiastically. (Michal loves her Scentsy). Finally passing through most of the vendors we are shocked at what we see: 5 major pens. The first pen was a simple display of how to handle rattlesnakes. The second let you touch the snakes and put the venomous creatures on your shoulder, the 3rd was venom milking… which has a bright yellow hue to it as a matter of fact. The 4th pen was a tad disturbing. Rattlesnake skinning. Sounds Texas enough, right? This skinning was a little different. They were teaching pre-teen kids how to skin the snakes. Then the children were dipping there hands in the snake blood and placing their hand prints on the poster board behind them. Quite a bizarre sight to see.

I must side track for a moment… yes, that does sound pretty horrible at first, but the rattle snake round up is intended to rid farmers' lands of the snakes that cause deadly injuries to them and their animals each year. All the meat and hides from the snakes are used by local artisans and butchers and sold nation wide. Michal and I had no desire to soak our hands in snake blood…to each their own. Yee-haw.

Finally, we make it to the 5th pen and man, I shit you not, there we stood, feet away from a freakin' pit of thousands of rattlesnakes. If you ever wondered what pen of snakes smelled like, you got your answer right then and there. It is a very intense smell of ammonia and stung our nostrils as thousands of pissed off confused rattlesnakes shook their rattlers in disgust. It was quite a sight to see, smell and hear. Even more amazing, was the dude walking around amongst all of the snakes getting his boots struck at by the angry rattlers. Head of his class, I'm sure.

We checked out the snakes, enjoyed the view and finished up with the shops before seeing a sign for fried rattle snake nuggets. Sign me up! Well, finding out that the line was over an hour long, we sadly had to opt for the barbeque truck outside. Plenty of options, all of them looked great, so take your pick.

We made our way into the second exhibit hall which was simply a very small version of Canton's trade days (see previous post) which we always enjoy. We stroll through the vendors for another hour or so before it's time to head to Abilene to check into our AirBNB for the night. A tiny cottage in a quaint neighborhood of Abilene. We truly loved it. The house was clean and perfect for everything we wanted. We seriously were looking for excuses to come back to Abilene to stay here again… it was that great. A huge shoutout to the hosts; the world needs more hosts like you! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/28890711?source_impression_id=p3_1584586063_VXgAdy1cTxEVpAFC

Settled in and then we headed out for dinner by Ubering to R Sports Bar and Grill. The back patio fit our needs perfectly. Cold beer, great chicken wings, a lively crowed and a great staff. It had the feels of a regulars only type of establishment but also incredibly welcoming to people traveling through; just the kind of place we needed. We soon retired for the night to watch 'Mandy' the retro style Nicholas Cage film that somehow developed a cult following (watching that movie deserves a post of its own… wtf Nicholas)

The next morning we pack up and head back to Ft. Worth for brunch at Tim Love's Woodshed BBQ. Which sadly, was not the best bar-b-que we had ever had in our lives. The sausage was a tad dry and the pork ribs simply weren’t that great. I had high hopes with as much as I love Tim Love of The Lonesome Dove and Queenie's; however The Woodshed was not for us.

We got home exhausted…in less than 48 hours we had fine dining, a jazz club, a hipster coffee house, a rattlesnake hotspot and a dive bar. What a great weekend, but man did we cram a lot in. We felt it was totally worth it and we hope you venture west to see the rattlesnakes in ole' Sweetwater, TX. Until next time… WKNDR.

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