Venomous snake performer speaks out after show canceled at Bristol Fair

BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – A man whose rattlesnake show was canceled at the Bristol Fair is speaking out.

David Richardson said he’s facing two citations that could put him behind bars for up to two years.

He has traveled the country performing the “West Texas Rattlesnake Show” for 26 years.

“I’ve performed rattlesnake shows in about 28 different states,” Richardson said.

But his first visit to Tennessee abruptly ended at the Bristol Fair.

“Evedently someone in the wildlife department in Tennessee just didn’t want to issue the permit, even though I qualified for the permit,” he said.

Richardson said he performed three shows at the fair before the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency stepped in, citing him with two violations.

Southern Expo Promoter, Larry Linton said, “we have this rattlesnake show everywhere. But in the state of Tennessee I understand for one reason or another they think that it should be a complete enclosure top, bottom and all the way around and he just doesn’t have that.”

“I did not come to the state of Tennessee to break the law,” Richardson said.

The Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office says the first citation was for failing to obtain the necessary permit to host a show featuring rattlesnakes.

The second says he failed to comply with rules and regulations to properly store snakes.

“I could acutally be put in jail or a penatentury for two years. One year on each misdemeanor charge,” Richardson explained.

He said his wife takes care of his permits and paperwork and had been working with the fair for a number of months before the show.

He said he has never had an issue in other states and that his show is safe, saying a rattlesnake has never escaped.

“I have never been bitten. Anyone that worked with me, assisted me, has never been bitten. Audience members never have been bitten.”

Richardson appeared in court on June 6 for his arraignment and says he has another hearing next month and that he’s looking forward to his day in court.

“I will be not guilty,” he said. “If people out there in the great state of Tennessee would like to pray for me, I would appreciate that.”

Richardson’s next court appearance is on July 11.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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