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24th annual Tarantula festival begins in Coarsegold

The 24th annual Tarantula Awareness Festival returns to the Coarsegold Historic Village, all day long, Saturday.

Visitors to this historic gold rush town at the southern entrance of Yosemite will discover a wealth of shops, delicious food, and small vendors year-round at the Coarsegold Historic Village. However, come October you might just also come across an eight-legged local, and town mascot, Nugget, the California Ebony Tarantula.

New this year, Nugget joins the Visit Yosemite | Madera County Welcoming Committee on the Fossils to Falls Road Trip. Nugget’s collectible trading card will be at the festival. Attendees who snag a card will be halfway to entering for the grand prize drawing in the Yosemite Adventure Contest.

Pumpkin cheesecakes, arachnid races, hairy leg contests, scream-offs, and a costume parade are all part of the fun. The spider-themed festival celebrates the unique species of tarantula in the Sierra Nevada, and their benefits to the environment.

“It warms my heart to be able to celebrate with friends and neighbors once again,” says Diane Boland, Festival Chair and Creator. “It is beautiful to me when our community gathers to celebrate and learn about the gentle tarantula, their importance in the ecosystem, and how we can all help preserve them.”

October marks the tarantula mating season, when male tarantulas emerge from their burrows to find a mate, then hunker back down for the winter. The spiders’ emergence serves as a forecast for cooler temperatures and rain in the coming weeks. This is a reason to celebrate for Californians and also a reason to slow down on roadways, allowing the creepy crawlers to cross safely.

“It is fascinating that tarantulas began appearing, and starring in locals’ social media feeds last week, and then we experienced a massive rainstorm,” remarked Brooke Smith, Public Relations for Visit Yosemite | Madera County. “Personally speaking, I saw four Tarantulas on Coarsegold backroads last Friday.”

For more information contact the Coarsegold Historic Village at 683-3900, or attend the event at 35300 Highway 41 in Coarsegold


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