Visitors learn to appreciate this misunderstood arachnid –
COARSEGOLD – Thousands of residents and visitors alike will be flocking to the Coarsegold Historic Village on Oct. 27 to celebrate the annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival.
The event celebrates the eight-legged creatures that make their home in this community, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada about half an hour south of Yosemite National Park.
Each fall the amorous arachnids make their way out of their burrows in the search of a mate. This annual celebration honors the creepy-crawlies.
“When we first moved here, I accidentally ran over a tarantula and was severely admonished by a neighbor,” said Dian Boland, founder of the event, celebrating its 14th anniversary.
That incident inspired her to learn more about this misunderstood creature. The more she learned, the more she wanted to celebrate it.
“I wanted to make people aware of how interesting they are, how they really are good for the environment and unique to the mountains up here and really a lot of fun,” she said.
The festival features a “Hairiest Legs” contest for men and women, tarantula themed baking contest, costume contest, tarantula races and more. The races consist of heats of ten tarantulas making their way through a dryer tube, with a handler at each end. Prizes are up for grabs for whoever has the speediest spider.
While the event is fun, it also helps foster respect for the oftentimes misunderstood mountain area inhabitant.
“I’ve had hundreds of people who say they spared the life of a tarantula because of the festival,” said Boland. People are reporting they now gently move them from places they’re not wanted, instead of resorting to a shoe or bug spray.
Kids can learn all about tarantulas as well, and even get the chance to hold one. While imposing to some, the local variety are harmless, and according to some kids, would even make a good pet.