Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Catfish Time in Kingsland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Catfish Time in Kingsland

Article excerpt

KINGSLAND -- The hot, dry summer has created a catfish shortage in Georgia, experts say. But that should have no impact on this weekend's 17th annual Labor Day Catfish Festival, according to organizers of the event.

"We've got a warehouse full of [catfish]," said Brent Boleratz, chairman of the event's food committee. "There will be no problems."

Festival organizers expect to serve at least 3,000 locally grown catfish dinners, complete with grits, hushpuppies, coleslaw and iced tea during the three-day event.

The festival is expected to draw from 35,000 to 40,000 people to downtown Kingsland on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, said Earlene Crews, the city's tourism director.

Crews attributed the festival's continued success to a balance of quality arts and crafts, good music and, of course, some of the best catfish around.

The biggest change this year will be a departure from the traditional country-and-western act that has always headlined the Labor Day entertainment.

Monday's feature act, Atlanta Rhythm Section, had a string of top 10 hits in the 1970s including So Into You, Imaginary Lover and I'm Not Going to Let it Bother Me Tonight.

"They are legends in this area," Crews said, explaining why organizers signed a soft-rock band to entertain this year.

Kingsland Mayor Keith Dixon said the city is prepared for the onslaught of visitors this weekend. City officials said there is plenty of free parking within a few blocks of the festival.

Parking was never a problem during the first Labor Day Festival in 1983, which drew about 1,500 people, Dixon said.

The city adopted the catfish theme a year later because of the nearby St. Marys River's reputation among anglers as a prime place for catfish, Dixon said.

The festival grew from a one-day event to two days a few years later and became a three-day weekend celebration in 1993, Dixon said. …

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