By Jack Gurner
YALOBUSHA – There’s something fishy going on this week.
Actually there are two somethings fishy going on: the Catch of the Day cooking challenge and tasting buffet is Thursday night and the World’s Largest Crappie Festival is Saturday.
The Catch of the Day event begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery and Visitor Education Center at Enid Lake. It will feature a freshwater fish cooking contest based on the favorite recipes of some of the area’s finest cooks.
The World’s Largest Crappie Festival kicks off Saturday morning with music on the Main Stage at 10:30. “It is all about us,” said Main Street Director Mickey Howley, “fish frying and local food, funky and fun music, regional arts and crafts, games for kids and adults, and just a big street party where you meet your friends and make new ones.”
The Catch of the Day will award prizes in three categories: Best Catfish, Catch of the Day (any local freshwater fish), and the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery Award. The NMFH Award is for any fish produced at the hatchery and includes walleye, carp, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, redear, and catfish. A Best Overall winner will be selected from the entries in all three categories. Entries must be received before 5:30 p.m.
“Along with a tasting of the dishes entered, guests will also enjoy a catfish dinner of world-renowned Mississippi raised catfish from Simmons Farm Raised Catfish in Yazoo City,” said NMFH Visitor and Education Center Director Jessie Gurner. Ticket price is $7 at the door.
Entertainment will be provided by the “Treblemakers,” a youth choir from the Palmer Home for Children in Columbus. Guest speakers for the evening will be award winning wildlife photographer Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. and Clark Gordin, Executive Director of the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Prior to the dinner, tasting and awards presentation, guests may tour the Hatchery and Education Center.
The Catch of the Day cooking challenge and tasting buffet is jointly sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Mississippi State University Extension Service – Yalobusha County, and the Yalobusha County Soil and Water Conservation District.
On Main Street Saturday, some talented fisherman-cook will have the opportunity to be named King Crappie, according to the Main Street Director. “All that you have to do is make the biggest catch and then cook it better than anyone else,” Howley said.
The weigh-in is at 12:30 and the results of the cook-off will be announced at 3:15.
There will be music all day long with acts including The OffBeats, Rev. John Wilkins, Big E and the Driftin’ Hounddogs (Elvis Impersonator), The Peasall Sisters, and The Swinging Prevaricators.
You don’t want to miss the Hula Hoop Contest beginning at 12:30 and ending with the finalists “Hoop Off” at 3:30. There will also be plenty of food and local arts and crafts.
The day-long event, which honors Fred Bright’s 1957 world record white crappie caught at Enid Lake, is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, The Library Sports Bar, Turnage Drug Store, Mechanics Bank, Ajax Diner, Renasant Bank, The B. T. C. Old-Fashioned Grocery, Lee McMinn of Kessinger Real Estate, Fischer Properties, Yalo Studio, Bozarts Gallery, and Delta Grind.