Neato: It's Nearly Tarantula Time in Coarsegold

The late-October lark delivers education and awareness regarding our many-legged friends.

STOPPING TO LET AN ANIMAL PASS? You've likely done so, if you've driven around the mountains or deserts or any spot that sees a lot of furry and/or scaly locals passing through. Quite often, the beastie we're giving the right of way to is on the larger size, say, like a deer, but if you're in the right spot, during the right time of year, you just might be watching a wee critter scramble along the ground. Such is the case of the tarantula, which is one of the handsome stars of autumn in several Golden State locations, like the rolly hills of Gold Country. These large spiders are featured players during the late summer and fall months for an excellent reason: It's mating season. So spying one making its many-legged way, on route to an assignation, is not unlikely. But where to go to learn more about our taran-tastic pals? You'll want to scramble your way to...

COARSEGOLD... on the final Saturday of October, when the 21st annual Coarsegold Tarantula Awareness Festival will take charmingly place. Yep, "awareness" is one of the themes of the day-long Oct. 27 to-do, as in being aware of tarantulas, their roles in the ecosystem, and how they're not so scary as we humans can make them out to be. On the people side of the equation? There's a Hairy Leg Contest at the festival, which pays humorous homage to the hairy nature of tarantulas, and a load of Halloween-themed stuff to do, like pumpkin decorating and pumpking dancing. And shall there be trick-or-treating for the tots? You bet. Be sure to cheer on the tarantula races while there, while soaking up the mellow autumnal glories of Gold Country in one of its prime seasons.

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