COARSEGOLD – Coarsegold is prepping for its 15th annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival on Saturday, Oct. 26. The Festival goes from 10:30 a.m. until the last “racing” tarantula hits the finish-line sometime after 5 p.m.
In what serves as a prime example of a unique, small-town event, the annual festival celebrates the tarantulas that come out of their burrows each fall to find a mate, before hunkering back down for the winter. The arachnids’ emergence serves as a forecaster for cooler temperatures and rain in the coming week, and is a reason to celebrate for local townsfolk.
While some people may shy away from them, the tarantulas are harmless, and an important part of the local ecosystem. One of the purposes of the event is to help educate people on the importance of the tarantulas.
“I’ve had hundreds of people who say they spared the life of a tarantula because of the festival. People are reporting they now gently move them from places they’re not wanted, instead of resorting to a shoe or bug spray,” said Diane Boland, creator of the event.
Boland actually started the event when she was new to Coarsegold herself. She accidentally ran over a tarantula and was admonished by her neighbor. That inspired her to help ensure others didn’t make similar mistakes.
The event features numerous activities including the popular tarantula races, hairiest leg contests for both men and women, as well as costume contests, baking contests and art activities for kids.
There are also various vendors and the chance for kids to learn about tarantulas from experts, and even hold one.