A Pageant in Catfish Country

Source: Roads & Kingdoms

A hundred and seventy years ago, when white men and their slaves first arrived in the swampy forests along the Mississippi River, catfish was a low-class food. It was left for young boys or for the poorest of all races, people who lived off whatever they could forage and pulled the fish from local tributaries with cane poles.

If the World Catfish Festival is any indication, though, times have changed. At this year’s celebration, 39th, I watched Miss Catfish accept her crown beneath rippling banners with the names of corporate sponsors. The winner, a pretty local 19- year-old, had been ...

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