The fourth year we've been running this festival in the early summer here in Water Valley. The first year it was the Founder's Day celebration, the next year the First Farmer's Market, and last year it was changed to the World's Largest Crappie Fest. That last name stuck, so this was the second annual Crappie festival.
We scheduled these for early May thinking it would be a far more comfortable time of year to be outside, a nice counter-point to the August heat during the Watermelon Carnival.
It was 90+ all day...
Alexe and the BTC have been gearing up all week for the event, stocking up on food and t-shirts, and dealing with the busy times that lead into the festival starting in the middle of the week. The festival shuts down Main Street right in front of the store, so the BTC is smack in the middle of all the action. It's also the only option for a climate controlled respite, and food and drink prices at everyday value.
The kids and I started our day off with a pancake breakfast. Caspian was stretching to make room in his tummy.
Lots of vendors on Main Street, I was able to see almost none of their wares, as the two kids were not in their best form. Caspian got himself a cheek-tomato, Annaliese wasn't up for face painting.
We took a break in my office for lunch and some painting.
The facts about this thing: The kids loved it, and spent lots of time running up and crashing down. The people running it were the only game in town, and charged $10 per kid for a full day of use, no group discounts. It was unshaded, and the plastic was often scorching hot.
I had mixed feelings, but after using it as a bribe before knowing the rate, I was up a creek by the time we made it over.
There were free kids games going on all day, sack races, egg and spoon races, checkers, hula hoop competitions, etc. The parents had a nice moment of peace when the kids found the pavilion and amused themselves.
The reason for the festival's name is a man in the 50s who caught a 5+ pound Crappie. This is the world record, (we have a plaque, and the stuffed fish sits on the mayor's desk,) so this year, for the first time, the festival included a fishing tournament. The boats came in off the lake for a weigh in at the pavilion at 3 pm.
46 boats, all parading into Water Valley. It was a unique crowd, a unique draw, and lots of fun to see that subculture in town. That line of boats and trucks is a whole lot of disposable income invested in pulling slimy creatures out of muddy water. (If you haven't read Carl Hiaasen's book set in the bass tournament world, I highly recommend it.)
A Crappie club from the south of the state put up a $100,000 prize for anyone who broke the world record. That had a big hand in the large draw. No one touched that prize money, I think the largest fish caught was just over 2 lbs.
The weigh in.
Huge kudos to the crew that put together the vendors, the musical acts, the porta-potty and road closing logistics, the games, the marketing, etc. This day went off without a hitch that I was aware of, and I had no hand in it. The guys I went out on the lake with later that night, who both have helped out in big and small ways for the first three iterations of this festival, were also amazed that a new generation has so completely taken over and done such a great job.
Water Valley has come a long way.