Archive | July, 2011

The Ninth Annual Denver Catfish Festival Wrap-Up

29 Jul

Counting down the moments to enlightenment.


Max's Banner remains timeless, due in no small part to a healthy supply of address number decals.


The Early Afternoon Session gets underway, complete with dogs, babies, and sweaty people. (Thanks to Brooks C., from whom I stole this and several other photos.)

Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts,

The overwhelming scent of stale beer, cornmeal, cigarette butts, and rotting watermelon has finally exited the Catfish Festival Grounds and settled somewhere near Limon, and another fabulous Denver Catfish Festival has now receded into history.  And what a fantabulous day it was. 

 We had a whole bunch of people, on par with DCF7, and fried up 40 pounds of Itta Bena, Mississippi’s finest farm-raised catfish and hundreds of hush puppies.  The first filet hit oil at 1:12 PM MST, and we finished up the last of the Natchitoches Meat Pies at around 4:30 PM.  Catfish Festival After Dark ended (for the Chairman) at around 4 AM, but apparently things continued on until just before sunrise. 

MAJOR THANK YOU’s to the following amazing Festivalgoers:

  • Vanessa, Lindsey, Megan, Barbara, and Dalton, for once again being the greatest staff a festival could ever hope for.
  • Lindsey, for making an amazing catfish pinata!
  • Sous Chef Pilar D. for preparing all of the hush puppies and receiving RAVE reviews from the crowd, and sister Rochelle for helping with all of the food prep.
  • Mike Y. for bringing homemade Natchitoches Meat Pies.  They were incredible. 
  • Brooks C. for coming in all the way from Atlanta (Georgia, not Texas) and helping out tremendously with both setup and takedown.
  • Lisa H. for providing delicious Gulf coast boiled shrimp.  Also incredible.
  • Stephen T. for coming in with a homemade, home-grown Raspberry Pie. 
  • Jared D. for helping us clean up the piles of garbage and refuse on Black Monday.
  • Chris and Mike for the use of patio furniture, sawhorses, lumber, staples, and anything and everything else I can think of. 
  • Jon M. for repeatedly launching a giant water rocket thing hundreds of feet into the air to the joy of throngs of children.

The Catfish-Inspired Haiku contest was won by Tommy L., who tearfully took home “the first non-team trophy I’ve ever gotten” with this inspired and worthwhile gem:

Some flakey fish love,
that fits like a wonder glove,
with no glove no love!

Tommy has always insisted on making his Haiku rhyme.  While we’ve told him time and time again that rhyming is not a requirement, the judging committee felt that he’d stricken the perfect balance between responsibly-sexy hip-hop and concisely minimalist Japanese verse with this year’s entry.

Baking is for sissies--Pilar's badass hushpuppies get the full Death Star treatment.

The Ninth Annual Denver Catfish Festival VIP Experience was everything we’d hoped for. (Actually it was far more than we’d hoped for, considering the fact that the VIP Planning Committee had no idea what all it was going to entail until about two hours before festival time.)  A special up-close reserved seating area, Mimosa Fridge, private bar, master bathroom access, and prep-and-fry-your-own-catfish session made the VIP’s altogether better than other festivalgoers.

VIP Lanyards, designed by my shockingly talented eight year-old staff member and daughter.

We received the following testimonial after the Festival:

As one of the winners of the VIP Experience, I can’t tell you how happy I am that I entered.  So many fantastic things happened that I truly felt like a VIP.  The access to the cooking area alone was worth it.  For all of these years, watching the chairman bread and fry each tender catfish nugget, wondering what that feeling might be like.  And then to actually have the opportunity to bread and fry my own catfish….unbelievable.  The VIP seating area and reserved alcohol was an exceptional touch.  The VIP lanyards allowed me access to parts of the festival grounds that heretofore have been untouchable.  Just an incredible day.  I would tell anyone that they need to apply next year.

Thanks Chairman,


The two Ad-hoc VIP lanyards were awarded to Mike Y. and Tommy L.for bringing awesome meat pies and a very thoughtful birthday card.  Tommy had the added benefit of somehow convincing me that he deserved a lanyard because he is a very important person in every possible way.

Catfish Festival After Dark, from my somewhat spotty recollection, was a weird and blurry as always with many a colorful character providing laughs and confoundingly bizarre behavior.  There was also dancing and one or more broken bottles.  In any case, it was a blast.  Major thanks to everybody who stuck around, especially those who stuck around after the massive mosquito attack.

Many apologies to the Oklahoma and Ohio State fans who seemed a bit frustrated by our choice of video programming, but who doesn’t want to watch continuously-running National Championship DVD’s of LSU kicking the poo out of your respective schools while enjoying delicious catfish? 

This year’s Festival MVP goes to….The Bayou Classic Bayou Fryer 700-701.  Not only was it up to the task, but in a drastic and unforeseen turn-of-events, we actually found that we couldn’t prep food fast enough to keep up with it.  That thing is a monster.

We would be remiss if we didn’t offer our praise and admiration to the territorially-blind festivalgoers who tossed bottles into our elderly neighbors’ back yard.  It’s your can-do spirit and rugged individualism that conquered the West and continues to keep the American Dream alive and well!  Nothing says Catfish Festival like neighborly 8 AM apologies after three hours of sleep!

Thanks to everybody who came out and made this the best Denver Catfish Festival ever!!!

Still Life with Catfish.

Who knows?  Maybe you’ll be able to tell your grandkids that you attended the last of its kind.  For its tenth anniversary, The Denver Catfish Festival might be in need of some sort of major overhaul. 

Until then, football starts very, very soon.  The Bayou Classic Bayou Fryer 700-701 is cleaned, primed, and ready to fry Autumn Itself if necessary!


Joe T., Chmn.

“Ask Me About Still Being Hungry for Catfish Even Though We Just Fried Forty Pounds Of It.”



More Catfish Festival Memories

21 Jul

I'll confiscate that damned Iphone if I see you messing around with it in the middle of my story.

Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts,

At this most special time of year, when the Denver Catfish Festival is closing in fast, my eyes tend to cloud up a bit and gaze longingly  back to the simpler time in Festival history, back to those heartwarming days of the Shreveport Catfish Festival and the magical memories they created. 

(Note: We’ve been testing the new Bayou Fryer 700-701 Death Star for about a week now, and are proud to report that it is a marvel of modern frying engineering; however, I must admit that this update might be brief, as it is quite difficult to type with my fingers as swollen as they are from ingesting all of the delightful fryable objects we’ve procured over these last few wonderful days.)

I lay awake on the wooden floor of our room, my cousins and siblings filling the damp air with light snores and long, deep breaths.  The still, pre-dawn humidity dangled the heavy scent of the back yard’s catfish entrails just above my nostrils; I tried to be still, to sleep, but only shuddered with excitement.  Today was the big day: I was going to drop the first catfish into the oil at 1:12 PM, as was tradition. 

Aunt Harriet's '74 Citroen. Perfect for housing blind feral rabid cats, but impossible to get parts for.

This was my passage into manhood: two days earlier I’d been thrown shirtless into Aunt Harriet’s ’74 Citroen Wagon with two blind, rabid feral cats and had to fight my way out in order to earn the honor of starting the Festival.  The multiple abrasions were still fresh and tenderly painful, but nothing fixed up wounds like Momma’s nutria rat and turpentine gauze wraps.

Suddenly, a rustling from the backyard.  I popped my head up and squinted through the open window.  I knew what it was before I saw it: possums in the catfish bucket (it was tradition to let the catfish sit out on Catfish Festival Eve to bring good luck to the family.)  I jumped out of bed and limped to my trusty badminton racquet then out the door. 

Uncle Wap, who was supposed to have been on guard duty, had fallen out of his hammock and was face-down snoring, empty fifth of Dr. Tichenor’s by his side.  Two possums were tugging at his right pocket with their teeth; they instinctively knew that this was where he kept his Skoal Oreos.  Four more of the little thiefs were hunkered down in the catfish bucket eating the fine, delicious catch two at a time. 

I swung my trusty racquet downward time and time again on the possums, but I was far too late.  They’d eaten Uncle Wap’s complete haul of Caddo Lake catfish.  As the summer sun rose over the family plot, I sat despondent in a haze of flies as we salvaged what we could and, being the industrious folks we were, made lemons out of lemonade.  Or in this case, possum out of catfish. 

It was too late to change the shirts, cups, and beer coozies, but we didn’t care.  It was the first and last Shreveport Possum Festival ever.  It was also the day that I became a man.

It’s Time for Me to Fry

13 Jul

Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts!

We’re a mere one and one-half weeks away from the Ninth Annual Denver Catfish Festival, and herein lies information that is crucial to your ongoing happiness.

In our endless and dogged pursuit of next level innovation, we at The Denver Catfish Festival are proud to announce our alliance with what can only be described as the Death Star of outdoor frying apparati: 

The Bayou Classic Bayou Fryer 700-701. 

Tell us the location of the rebel base, or Alderaan gets deep-fried to a flaky golden brown.

This angry customer is equipped with the latest in V-channel fryer technology:  it both rolls its four gallons of oil to evenly distribute heat AND safely discards cornmeal shrapnel to prevent overheating.  The Bayou Fryer 700-701 is the Paragon of Catfish and Hush Puppy Cookery.   Says one of our catfish-frying brethren to the South,

“This is the biggest, baddest SOB you’ll ever cook in!”

To say that we at Catfish Festival Headquarters are as excited as LSU’s Marcus Spears when he returned a Jason White interception in the 2003 Sugar Bowl would be the understatement of the decade. 

In these remaining few days leading up to DCF9, we will be putting the Bayou Fryer 700-701 to the test with any and all manner of fryable media, including small woodland creatures and unruly neighborhood pets in order to insure that we are fully schooled in its nearly infinite capabilities by Catfish Festival Day. 

Items of Grave Importance:

–The latest “Ask the Chairman” Q&A has been posted here.  Technology rules the day at DCF Headquarters. 

The VIP Raffle drawing will take place tomorrow (Thursday) night, with the announcement of the lucky winners coming on Friday morning! (After the announcement, each winner will be contacted via email with information regarding eligibility requirements, registration, legal waivers, orientation, drug testing, and physical fitness.)

–NEW CULINARY ATTRACTIONS THIS YEAR:  We at the DCF are proud to announce the addition of a DIY Po-Boy station and a Crawfish Etouffe smothering station to this year’s festival.  While we do believe that catfish and hushpuppies are more than adequate served ‘neat,’ we have decided to expand and offer these additional attractions this year as exhibition items only.  Final votes on whether they’ll become permanent Festival Fixtures will take place at the Denver Catfish Festival Winter Meetings next year.

–I toss and turn, sleepless and immersed in cold sweats, over your lack of haiku contest entries.  Winning haiku are what today’s dynamic employers look for.  How can you add this great honor to your resume if you don’t compete? 

It’s almost Catfish Festival Week!  My tail wags to the point of hip separation!


Joe T., Chmn.

“Ask Me About The Ninth Annual Denver Catfish Festival!”

Oh—And Happy National French Fry Day.  How the French Fry Lobby was able to procure July 13 while National Hush Puppy Day is relegated to April 14th is beyond me.  National Hush Puppy Day on Tax Day Eve?  It’s a crime!




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