The Walker Art Center started the free Internet Cat Video Festival three years ago with no clue how many people would come for cat-centric YouTube snippets on an inflatable screen. When 10,000 showed up the first year (and every year since), event officials knew they created something special. So what’s all the fuss about? Here are five highlights from last Thursday's event:
1. Hilarious videos There wouldn’t be a film festival without the curated 75-minute selection of cat videos, projected onto a giant screen on the Walker Art Center’s sloped Open Field. Clips range from five-second snippets of kitties in catnip ecstasy to three-minute animated cat music videos. The entire crowd cheered during a video of a cat unraveling, and then completely rerolling, a roll of toilet paper. At the end of the screening, the Golden Kitty Award goes to the people’s choice for best video (voted online before the festival). See this year’s winner.
2. Fabulous food A handful of food trucks line up on the south end of the field before the 8:45 p.m. screening. You can pack a picnic to avoid long lines, but it’s hard to resist the smell wafting from trucks that includes local celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen. We took the ironic route and got our food from the Dog House, a stand featuring inventive hot dog creations like this chili dog topped with Goldfish crackers.
3. Prime people-watching Painted-on whiskers and cat-eared headbands distinguish the casual attendee from the feline fanatic. Keep an eye out for sassy shirts, colorful handbags and inflatable headgear.
4. Cat-tivities Lively folk band Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers played music from 7 p.m. until just before screening time. Their fun tunes provided a nice soundtrack to explore activities like the face painting booth and poem-writing station. We met a woman named Clair who decided to write a tribute to her 10-year-old kitty companion:
A lazy boy
And covets his toys.
He makes our home a happy one.
That’s our Elijah.
5. A purr-fect view You don’t have to be a cat-lover to drink in the twinkling view of the Minneapolis skyline. It’s a magical moment when dusk settles over the Open Field, the downtown lights come on and the cat videos commence.
Check the Walker Art Center website periodically for information about next year's festival.
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