Have you ever been to a small town Mississippi festival? I love them. Every time I go to one, I feel like I'm in the middle of a Faulkner novel. It's always 90somethinghundred degrees out, there are sno cones and local art and fried chicken, and there's always some sorta unknown, amazing bluegrass or blues band playing. I've been to the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, the Bentonia Blues Festival, of course Double Decker in Oxford, and here most recently--the Belzoni (pronounced Bell-zone-uh, for those who don't know) Catfish Festival. Now, naturally, because we are in Mississippi, there simply must be a Catfish Queen to reign over the festival! This year my sweet husband was asked to be a judge! His family has been in the catfish business for 30 years, and he knows a thing or two about pageants since he pretty much won the award for boyfriend of the year 3 years in a row when I was competing in the Miss Mississippi pageant.
Now, for what it's worth--the Catfish Queen really does have a job to fulfill. Of course, she must be a pretty girl, but she has to be the face and representation for the catfish industry at many meetings and events, giving speeches and graciously welcoming guests at each one. During the interview, Taylor and the other judges asked questions such as, "How do you feel the catfish industry can improve its marketing to better compete in these economic times with other flaky whitefish such as tilapia?", and "Cat Cora, the Food network Iron Chef from Mississippi, who happens to be openly gay, is the national spokeswoman for catfish. Do you feel that the industry should appeal to a more widespread audience by reaching alternative groups through people like Cat Cora, or should the fish be marketed solely on its own?" Not exactly "What's your dream date", ya know?
We had the best time at the festival, and here's the girl who was crowned! (Please excuse the pictures, I had to use my phone):
She is going to be featured in the September issue of Southern Living, so be looking for her!
Later that night, Taylor and me, Travis (Taylor's brother) and his girlfriend Caroline, and our friends Mark, Lane, and Bo, borrowed Taylor's parents' boat and boated over from their house to one of my favorite restaurants--Cock of the Walk! If you've never been, you HAVE to go. They have the best fried catfish around, and they serve giant pots of greens, cole slaw, marinated sweet onions, and tea, family style. It's SO good. SOOO good. I try not to go often, because I try to avoid fried foods, but every once in a while you just can't help yourself! Plus, I felt the need to continue supporting the catfish industry and make a weekend out of it! After dinner, we hopped back into the boat and rode over to The Pelican Club (formerly The Dock, which will mean something to you Jacksonians reading) where we hung out, listened to the band, and watched a bunch of old people acting a fool on the dance floor. It was pretty perfect. Here are a few pics: