“In the future, everyone will fry catfish for fifteen minutes.”

12 May


Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts,

We hope that the long, cold winter and sopping wet spring haven’t spoiled your appetite for a deep-fried revival of The Late Summer Classic, now in its thirteenth iteration, The 2016 Denver Catfish Festival.

And let’s be honest.  It has certainly been cold, wet, and generally unpleasant here in Colorful Colorado over the past few months, but by the time the first filet hits oil, at 1:12 PM MST on August 6th, everything will be dry as a bone save the milk bath awaiting eager cuts of prime Catfish before they take the journey from cornmeal to hot oil to cooling rack to your belly!  Ah, just think of it: sunshine, ice cold beer, hush puppies, catfish, corn dogs for the lil’ festivalgoers…

You’ll notice by the title of this entry that we’ve, uh, loosely quoted one Andy Warhol, the penultimate pop-art producer whose birthday happens to be on the date we’ve chosen for this year’s event.  After the success of last year’s tribute to Jerry Garcia (upon whose birthday DCF2015 was held) the Denver Catfish Festival Marketing Division felt that honoring another cold, dead famous person was a good theme with which to draw a crowd.  To that end, we’re certain that stiff Warhol urbanites will enjoy our homespun brand of mellow hangoutification as much as the dirty hippies did as long as we have tasteful, profound visuals and Velvet Underground on the jukebox.

Not sure if that’s going to happen though, now that I think about it.  Call me a troglodytic provincialist festival chairman, but I don’t understand the deal with the Campbell’s Soup Cans.   Isn’t that plaigiarism?  Did he really create anything?  If we do multicolored fried catfish, is that like a Warhol piece?  It’s really not worth the risk to attempt to synthetically alter the coloration of fried foods.  Catfish and hush puppies are already  works of art without a bunch of artsy New York so-and-so’s mucking up the works with questionable food coloring.

And, I mean I liked Lou Reed and all, but the Velvet Underground, outside of Sweet Jane and maybe There She Goes Again (the R.E.M. version, actually) never really ignited my fryer.  OK how about this: remember that Billy Idol song Cradle of Love?  We’ll play that.  It’s a dumb song but it seems like it would be more fun to hear at a Denver Catfish Festival than that other stuff.  The video had Warhol paintings of Billy Idol that came alive and sang the song, so we’re covered.

And Blondie–Debbie Harry is/was a huge Warhol fan, or they were friends or something.  And I’d be shocked if she didn’t love fried catfish as well.  She’s worldly like that.  We’ll play a few Blondie songs.  Everybody likes Blondie, and I’ve had Atomic stuck in my head today for some reason.  And come to think of it, I do recall that some Denver Catfish Festival participants really like the Grateful Dead.  Maybe we’ll play some of that, too.

So there you have it.  We can’t wait to see you at the 2016 Denver Catfish Festival, Featuring a Billy Idol song, a Blondie song, some Grateful Dead, and more delicious fried catfish, hush puppies, and witty, urbane conversation than you can shake a stick at!

It’s also never too early to begin work on your Catfish-inspired Haikus.  Get thee a writing utensil and parchment!   The judging committee trembles with anticipation and can already be heard, far off in the distance, chanting five-seven-five…five-seven-five…five-seven-five as they begin their summerlong sojourn from mountain seclusion to DCF 16!


Joe T., Chmn.

“Ask Me About Artistic and Musical Choices for the 2016 Denver Catfish Festival!”


Fry You Well, Fry You Well, I’ll Cook You More than Words Can Tell…

21 Jul


Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts,

We at The Denver Catfish Festival pride ourselves on being respectful to any and all cultural milieus, regardless of creed, religious affiliation, politics, whatever.  We are especially mindful of the various sects and cults devoted to the appreciation of all of the wonderful and sumptuous forms of music that we are so fortunate to have at our disposal.  (Except for Phish, ironically.  Can’t stand Phish. Or Libertarians.)

With that in mind, we’ve recently been notified that the 2015 Denver Catfish Festival happens to fall on the same day as the birth date of one Jerome Garcia, a popular American musician from the twentieth century who toured with a band of loveable ragamuffins known in popular culture as The Grateful Dead.

More specifically, the news was broken to us thusly:

“Duuude, you’re not really gonna have the Catfish Fest on Jerry’s Birthday, are you?  All ‘e won do, messin’ up Jerry’s birthday.  Dude, I see how you are.”

Whoa, now, hold on there, my bewhiskered and tie-dyed confidant; tap the brakes, don’t kick over your liquid.  Have we not forgotten that Jerry Garcia performed “Catfish John” with acclaimed folksters Old & In the Way in 1973?  Then recorded the same snappy tune with The Jerry Garcia Band in 1975?  Or that Mr. Garcia is remembered as something of a fried food aficionado himself?

Have you not listened to the lyrics of one “Brokedown Palace,” a popular and oft-cited Grateful Dead ditty?

Make myself a bed by the waterside
In my time, in my time, I will roll, roll, roll

Is it not obvious that he is singing as a catfish, by the waterside, making a bed of cornmeal in which to roll, roll roll?  To deny this connection is “…so closed-minded, bro.”

And would Mr. Garcia (and more specifically, lyricist Robert Hunter) not have loved our famed Catfish-inspired Haiku Contest?  According to this fella, the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” has a Haiku for a chorus!  (I disagree due to syllable placement, but still…)

We at The Denver Catfish Festival offer every assurance that we are mindful and respectful of Mr. Garcia’s birthday, and feel that if Mr. Garcia were with us today, he would give his every blessing to our marriage of Catfish and cornmeal.

To that end, I, your Dear Chairman, am in negotiations to have a portion the middle finger of my right hand amputated just before the festival begins as an homage and a show of respect; furthermore, we’re planning to hire some CU students to dirty up the scene at the festival gates and request “a miracle” for entry into the 2015 Denver Catfish Festival.  Also, an online ticket seller will be offering Denver Catfish Festival tickets at $10 grand a pop if you really want to get in the mood.

Heck, we might even play Truckin’, Sugar Magnolia, Touch of Grey, and/or a compilation of live songs (in which Donna wails her agonizing wail for hours on end) over the Catfish Festival Hi-Fi!

(Or, once Your Dear Chairman is sufficiently full of Catfish and Hush Puppies and Ice Cold Miller Lite and lively conversation, we might be persuaded to throw on that 8/1/73 Roosevelt Stadium show as an entry point to Catfish Festival After Dark.)

Rest assured, Happy Festivalgoers, this will be the Cornell ’77 of Denver Catfish Festivals!


Joe T., Chmn.

Fry Like an Eagle

17 Jul
A float in the shape of a giant catfish with a large stone placed on its head is drawn by festival goers during the annual Kanda  Myojin Festival parade in Tokyo Sunday, May 9, 2010. The fish is locally known as the symbol of earthquakes and the sacred keystone is believed to contain the power of temblors.(AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Catfish, he’s carryin’ the weight of the world…

Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts!

I’m writing to you from what must be the far corners of the mind, that small but lively locale where insanity, poor judgement, and love of freshwater bottom-dwellers, fried cornmeal, and inexpensive, chemical-laden American canned beer intersect and flourish.

The Denver Catfish Festival Administrative and Labor crews attended a team-building retreat last weekend to the mountains of Colorado.  I was sitting in camp, allowing the bucolic splendor of the majestic Rocky Mountains to wash over my aura (having just finished a rather delicious hot link,) when one of our group spotted a large bird, only thirty feet above our site, flying erratically.  We looked more closely and saw that this was no ordinary bird; it was a bald eagle.  And not only was it a bald eagle, but a bald eagle with a live trout in its talons!  Its majesty knew no equal as it settled on the far end of a lush meadow and devoured its prey.

After chanting “USA! USA! USA!” until our many camp dogs began to bark with agitation, a notion shot through my mind with the immediacy of a Wells Catfish attacking a Spanish pigeon:

Yes, Fortuna, oh yes.  I have borne witness to your sign from above.  There will, nay, there must be a 2015 Denver Catfish Festival.

Therefore on Saturday, August 1st, we’re having a Catfish Festival.  The Denver Catfish Festival, to be more precise.  The first filet hits oil at 1:12 PM.  There will be no live music, nor any parades; there will be a Catfish-inspired Haiku competition and Catfish Festival After Dark.  And while this may be a more intimate gathering that in years past, we are over-the-moon excited to bring back what one ebullient festival attendee called “The Greatest Single Day of My Life.”

Who was that loquacious festival attendee, you ask?

It was my dog, the mighty Beagle, Little Dalton Hilliard.  And he may not have actually spoken those words, but his eyes said more than any mere speaker of words ever could.

So, there you have it.  We’ll provide the Catfish and The Hush Puppies, you provide witty repartee and a lawn chair, and let’s fry everything in sight.


Joe T., Chmn.

“Ask Me About Ideas for Getting Out of Prior Obligations in Order To Attend The 2015 Denver Catfish Festival!”

The Year of The Cat(fish)

8 Jul

DCF15 logo

8.1.15, 1:12 PM

Howdy from Hiatusport, Colorado!

1 Jun

Greetings, Former Catfish Enthusiasts,

We at The Defunct Denver Catfish Festival hope that you’ve enjoyed the past couple of years without us; we hope you’ve used this time to reconnect with loved ones, pursue careers, realize dreams, start your own festivals, seek the real meaning of life through the creation of wax figurines of aquatic life, etc…

For our part, we’ve spent the time away on a journey of introspection, anonymously drifting from town to town, selling leftover Catfish Festival accouterments and discarded Haiku Contest submissions in order to survive, looking for answers to life’s big questions, reflecting on Catfish Festivals past, enjoying complexions unmarred by presence of fryer oil, and rolling in the tens of dollars saved due to the cancellation of the 2013 festival.  We’ve looked into the darkness of our souls and, after much searching, seen what we think might be the hypnotic and disarming Catfish of Destiny staring back, waving a little fin, inviting us forward.

A couple of years older but no wiser or with any additional good sense, we now look to the future, namely August 1, and wonder if there’s just barely enough magic cornmeal tucked away in a burlap sack, just a bit more enchanted creamy liquid shortening  heart-healthy vegetable oil in an old dusty jug, and just a smidgen of enraptured propane in a rusty tank, all lying still and quiet in a deep, dark corner of the Denver Catfish Festival Groundskeeper’s Side Yard of Misfit Toys, waiting to be married in a congress of calamitous cuisine in an eleventh iteration of the Late Summer Classic, A New and Shockingly Unimproved Denver Catfish Festival.

There are hurdles aplenty to making this thing happen, first among them luring the Bayou Fryer 700-701 “Death Star” frying apparatus back to the Festival Grounds.  Enraged by The Festival’s cancellation, the hot-tempered outdoor appliance lit out for the southern border in the dead of a hot August night seeking its adventure and fortune in far-off lands.  Last we heard, the Death Star was aiding rebels as a doomsday weapon in battles against totalitarian rule in a little-known republic somewhere south of the Equator.

Next, we’d have to lure the staff back.  A major reason for The Festival’s collapse was the deplorable working conditions (even when pared with all-you-care-to-consume catfish and hushpuppies, dill pickles, and ice-cold Miller Lite, of course.) It’s difficult, nay, impossible, to tell at this point if two trips around the sun has healed the deep trauma of Festivals past.  Bringing the Setup Crew, Festival Day Crew, Enforcement Division, Haiku Judges, DJ’s, festival chefs, bartenders, groundskeepers, Council of Elders, and Sanitation Crew back together will possibly require an effort of some sort.  

The Sanitation Crew will be the most difficult to bring to the table–ten years of picking up cigarette butts, broken glass, and oil-smeared paper plates has left them bereft of even the most minor enthusiasms.

Finally, and most importantly, it’s up to the Merry Festivalgoers themselves.  If they find that their late summer Saturdays are better served in Colorado’s admittedly spectacular mountains, or on the sandy and violence-free beaches of Mexico, or in the climate-controlled utopia of a tranquil public library, or visiting family back east, back west, back north or back south, then we most definitely could not have a Denver Catfish Festival.  Would they forgive us for 2013’s travesty, for walking off stage just before the curtain fell?

We shall spend the next few days away from it all, pondering these weighty questions, comparing this situation to other hiatuses (hiati?) in the past (baseball strike, Widespread Panic’s year off, Coy and Vance replacing Bo and Luke for an entire season, VW’s disgusting decision not to import the new T6 Transporter) and try to figure out if there’s a way to make a decision on whether or not we shall ponder a possibility of discussing the notion of collecting our thoughts about considering a movement towards a committee’s engagement in the question of how, if, and should we should attempt to resurrect the archaic relic of a bygone era that is The Denver Catfish Festival.

Until then, enjoy the warm embrace of summer!  Revel in friendship and in celebration of this dazzlingly unpredictable and delicious little thing called Life!

Ooh-personal reminder–listen to Purple Rain in its entirety at once. Such a great summer album.  Ooh another reminder–Start letter writing campaign to get Widespread Panic to play “I Would Die 4 U” at Red Rocks.


Joe T., Chmn.

“Ask Me About The Existential Nothingness of Two Summers Without a Denver Catfish Festival!”


30 May
Yeah, it's been a good vehicle.  But sure does use a lot of oil...

Yeah, it’s been a good promotional vehicle for The Denver Catfish Festival. But it sure does use a lot of oil…


Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts,

You’ve probably heard grumblings in the press about The Denver Catfish Festival’s myriad problems and issues and its woeful state-of-being.  We’re here to announce that news of our demise is greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Catfish Enthusiast Mark Twain, who was quoted as issuing this edict…shortly before his eventual demise.  Okay so maybe that’s a bad example.

The truth is, The Denver Catfish Festival Crew is working ’round the clock to present the most important, nay the most crucial Festival Of Your Entire Life.

Sure, we’ve had our bait stolen off the hook a few times this year.  First there was that unfortunate business with the Haiku Competition.  While we neither confirm nor deny the leaked report of a former staff member, the good news is that this year, we don’t have to go to the Four Corners of The Earth to find fabulous objects d’art for the Haiku Prize Packages!  We already have them!  And now it’s all Vintage!

And yes, there were some unfortunate goings-on at the Festivalgrounds this past January.  It’s never pretty when a Bayou Classic Bayou Fryer 700-701 with V-Channel Technology goes “over the falls.”  But on the bright side, the area of the floor affected by the mishap has been left with a healthy, radiant sheen.  Water literally beads up on its surface!  Not to mention, the spill was of pure vegetable oil.  What’s more organic than vegetables?  We probably did the earth a favor by returning its slippery bounty to the soil from whence it came.  There are little vegetable oil sprouts popping up all over the Festivalgrounds. So here again, we’re ahead of the game.  Our condolences do go out to the winter caretaker, though.  We try to give him a nice shiny nickel sometimes when we see him staggering around downtown in his tattered Festival uniform muttering “…catfish…catfish…catfish…” 

And finally, this lawsuit with C.H.U.M. is completely out-of-line.  As ardent Woody Guthrie fans (another catfish lover) we have always supported unions; however, the gentleman who was working at the Festivalgrounds over this past weekend and suffered his unfortunate fall was actually an undocumented worker from…Alabama.  With no Louisiana work visa documentation, he is barred from Catfish Handlers Union Membership and therefore cannot file claim against The Denver Catfish Festival.  As far as the bump on his head making him smarter, we’ve learned that on Monday he was able to pass his GED and has since been accepted into Bama’s Doctoral Physics program.  Congratulations, undocumented Bama person, err, student!  Roll Tide indeed!

Therefore, having wiped this nasty business clean like oil from a well-used Festival Table, we’re proud to announce that The Eleventh Annual Denver Catfish Festival is on!

The Eleventh Annual Denver Catfish Festival

July 20th, 2013

First Filet-hits-oil at 1:12 PM MDT

The Denver Catfish Festivalgrounds


Joe T., Chmn.

“Ask Me About Evading Charges Related to The Eleventh Annual Denver Catfish Festival!”

Image 28 May

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