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Miss Snake Charmer handles rattlesnakes in Texas

April 12, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

SWEETWATER, TEXAS — Kyndra Vaught caught everybody’s attention when she arrived at the rattlesnake roundup here in West Texas last month wearing her crown and rhinestone cowboy boots.

“Are you the snake charmer queen?” shouted a man selling rattlesnake head canes, porcelain rattlesnake “eggs” and snakeskin wallets. “You need a snake.”

Kyndra, 17, let him drape an oversized plastic rattlesnake over her shoulders as she posed for photos. She had just been named Miss Snake Charmer the night before, part of the roundup pageant detailed in Friday’s Los Angeles Times.

Miss Snake Charmer stopped to let a little girl with a rattler painted on her cheek caress her glittery boots and stare at her crown.

“She’s scared of snakes,” the girl’s father confided.

“Don’t be scared!” Kyndra said. 

Raised on a nearby ranch, Kyndra had handled her share of snakes and was unfazed as she approached the roundup snake pit.

“They may strike you,” warned one of the Jaycees who run the roundup. Kyndra smiled.

Another local Jaycee, Riley Sawyer, host of Animal Planet’s “Rattlesnake Republic,” was impressed.

“A lot of them are squeamish,” he said of past queens. “But by the time the rattlesnake roundup’s over, they’ll be like old pros.”

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