Last semester I gave a little preview of my hometown. Yes itís country and itís definitely not for everyone. But for those of you who enjoy fried food, free bands and fireworks, it might be for you for one weekend a year. Mark your calendar for 4th of July weekend and head down South to the Shoals Catfish Festival.
Iíll go ahead and admit Iím a sucker for the festival and have only missed it twice in my 21 years of existence. Insider secret: I was even Miss Catfish Festival Queen in 2006! (Note: This is not me in the photo below.) Since my reign, a tradition was created that Miss Catfish must kiss the biggest fish. You read it right, and Iím not talking a catfish you fry up for dinner; Iím talking an 80 or 90lb. catfish!
Of course you do have the option of having a catfish sandwich from the Lions Club stand thatís always located on one of the main corners. When you need to wash that down, make sure to grab a lemon shake up from one of the local churches. I promise they are much better than the ones you buy at those moving food carts. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts of the festival and I would encourage eating as much as you can fit into your stomach.
So now weíve got some big fish and lots of food, but you may be thinking what is there to do at this Catfish Festival? Glad you asked, the answer is lots! If you are more of the knick knack shopper, Main Street is lined with booths full of random things from glow necklaces to paintings. Local bands take the main stage every night and if karaoke is your thing, theyíve got that too. There are plenty of kids options, the turtle race and sidewalk chalk competition being my favorite.
If youíre less into shopping and more into sporting, make sure you check out the schedule of events ahead of time. Although I donít know the numbers, Iím going to go ahead and say we have one heck of a softball tournament, attracting teams from all over the state and even country. But hurry, registration fills up quickly! Other big hits are the 5k race and sand volleyball and 3-on-3 basketball tourneys.
A full schedule of events can be found closer to July in the Shoals News and Martin County Journal or at any local business. Shoals may be a small town but after 25 years, they know how to put on a good festival. Trust me on this one.