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Feb 18th
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Home Things to Do Festivals California’s Historic Town of Coarsegold Readies for Annual Tarantula Festival

California’s Historic Town of Coarsegold Readies for Annual Tarantula Festival

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The small town of Coarsegold, located less than half an hour south of Yosemite's southern entrance in California's Sierra foothills, is prepping for the 15th annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.

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.
tarantula_signWhile 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," said Diane Boland, creator of the event. "People are reporting they now gently move them from places they're not wanted, instead of resorting to a shoe or bug spray."

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.

"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 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. The festival starts at 10:30 a.m. with the final tarantula race starting at 5 p.m.

The mountain community, located at an elevation of 2,218 feet, has a little bit of everything you might want in a rural town with great Old West history. Coarsegold got its start in 1849 when "large nuggets" of gold were discovered. Although Coarsegold has gone through many transitions the town honors the historic Indian culture, enjoys annual events, has a museum, and offers gold panning to name a few. Coarsegold is located on Highway 41, between Fresno and the Yosemite Valley.

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