Protests erupted near Blacktip Island’s heritage House this morning after a typo on a music festival flyer indicated snakes, such as this Blacktip Island black racer, would be served at the festival. (photo courtesy of Tmpualani)
Blacktip Island’s annual charity open-mic music festival, scheduled for Friday evening, were disrupted this morning by several groups reacting to a promotional flyer’s typographical error stating ‘snakes’ would be served at the festival, event organizers said.
“Took us a while to figure out the notices we’d put up all over the island said ‘snakes will be served,’ not ‘snacks will be served,’ Blacktip Island Music Club president Jay Valve said. “Out of the blue we had parents calling, yelling they were scared to bring their kids. Next thing we knew there’s protestors outside, hollering about animal cruelty. Then a second group showed up with pillow cases, hoping to get a snake or two. It’s been pandemonium.
“We’re trying to get folks settled down enough to have the festival,” Valve said. “There’s still a bunch of shouting protestors waving signs. And a few sad sacks wandering around looking for snakes. We’re not sure if we’ll be able to stage the festival at all, at this point.”
Residents had multiple interpretations of the typo.
“It’s absolutely reprehensible to think these people would capture live snakes and hand them out willy-nilly, regardless of the money raised being for a good cause,” Blacktip People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “Also, snakes play a vital role on the island, keeping the ecosystem in balance. They’re part of the environment. But, frankly, they shouldn’t be brought together in large numbers.”
Others thought the notice indicated snakes would be served as food.
“I thought it was gonna be snakes-as-protein thing, like the rattlesnake stew they make in Texas,” Christina Goby said. “It’s a disappointment, really. There’re so few exotic food options on the island. We were all set for a dining adventure, now poof, nothing.”
Some hoped the event would help with home vermin control.
“I was looking forward to getting a little rock boa or two to have around the house, keep the rats and roaches in check,” Joey Pompano said. “They got my hopes up, then crushed them. As snake enthusiasts, we view this as a bait-and-switch situation. That’s dirty pool.”
Event organizers re-emphasized snakes will play no part in the festival.
“I can assure everyone zero snakes will be served, whether that’s handed out or sold as snacks or given food and beverage,” Valve said. “People need to take a deep breath and relax. No one’s foisting reptiles on them. We just want people to come and listen to some good local musicians.”
Some say the clarification is too little, too late.
“I don’t care what Jay says, this is still a serious situation,” Angela Fisher said. “Folks’re scared. Kids’re scared. Snakes’re scared. And sure, Blacktip snakes aren’t venomous, but they’re still icky.”
Other praised the concept of serving snakes.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea, giving them treats and beer,” Lee Helm said. “On this island, you make friends with the snakes, they like you and life gets easier.”
The Blacktip Times will update this evolving story throughout the day.