While 2-1/2-year-old Pirate Ben Singh was clearly mesmerized, he kept his hands below the table just in case the spider decided to detour in his direction. Parents Joel and Heather Vega drove up from Los Angeles so that their children, Ninja Trent, 6, and Princess Keira, 5, could touch a tarantula for the first time. Giacomo Ciabattini was amazed at how light, gentle and delicate the tarantula was at it made its way up his arm. Calling it a beautiful and amazing experience, he still couldn’t convince his squeamish companions to give it a try.
There was a constant line of ninjas, princesses, witches, and power rangers patiently waiting their turn for an up close moment with the tiny, fuzzy guests of honor at the 20th Annual Tarantula Awareness Festival held last Saturday in the Historic Coarsegold Village.
Attendees screamed, decorated pumpkins, proudly showed off hairy legs, and made scrumptious pumpkin desserts.
Rivergold sixth-grader Elizabeth Harper, 11, entered most of the competitions. Her favorite - the tarantula races. She believed she had a good chance of winning with her pet tarantula, Fluffy.
“I love tarantulas,” Harper said, who came dressed as Katrina Day of the Dead. “They’re soft and gentle, and won’t hurt you unless you try to hurt them.”
Lauren Buckles, 15, who expertly handled the tarantulas as they moved from person to person, explained the spiders are calm, comfortable in hands, and beneficial to the environment.