Great Times Ahead at the Second Annual Big Catch Catfish Festival

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

OSCEOLA -- The Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce is excited about another great day on the Mississippi River with its second annual Big Catch Catfish Festival, which will take place at beautiful and historic Sans Souci Park the Saturday after Labor Day, Sept. 7.

The festival features a 100 percent prize pool payout catfishing tournament, the American Greetings Mighty Mississippi River Queen Beauty Pageant, kids' activities, expo booths, a variety of food vendors, and a great lineup of live music all day, including country star Andy Griggs, R&B legend Billy "Soul" Bonds", the Gibson Oil Company Band Battle at Plum Run Bend, and more.

The festival kicks off with its namesake highlight, the 100 percent prize pool payout catfishing tournament, which draws fishermen from all over the Mid-South hoping to take away both the cash prize and bragging rights. Two-person teams will hit the river bright and early at 6:30 a.m. competing for both most fish by weight and biggest single fish.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the stage will be alive with fierce musical competition in the Gibson Oil Company Band Battle at Plum Run Bend, a fun commemoration of the historic Civil War naval battle fought on the Mississippi River at the site of Sans Souci Park. Three local bands will vie for the title of champion and a guaranteed spot at next year's festival.

Festival-goers will determine the winner by a ballot vote, with the band receiving the most votes being invited back next year to defend their title. In addition to determining this year's champion, all ballots then will go into a drawing for a $500 cash prize to the winning voter.

Bands competing this year are the White Lightning Band of Osceola, Cash Town of Dyess, and Lylat of Blytheville.

Following the Band Battle at Plum Run Bend, the park will be filled with a variety of music all afternoon. The Marty Ray Project takes the stage at 1:30 p.m., followed by Blues songstress Joy at 3 p.m.

R&B/Soul artist Billy "Soul" Bonds is this year's musical special guest and will grace the main stage at 4:30 p.m. Bonds has been on the Southern Soul circuit for years, with a discography that spans nearly three decades. In 2006, he signed with Malaco Records and released his latest CD, Here Kitty, Kitty, which includes his signature song, "Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty." Today, he is known as Mr. Scat Cat and entertains a vast audience which is rapidly growing. His songs and performances are for today's adults, which include young R&B listeners, baby boomers, and the forgotten 60s and over.

This year's headliner, country music star Andy Griggs, will take the stage at 6 p.m. and close out the festival as the sun sets over the Mississippi River. After several years of playing in the blue grass band, 'Jerry and Tammy Sullivan' Andy found himself a record deal with RCA and, in 1999, exploded with his debut album, which included hits such as the title track "You Won't Ever Be Lonely" and "She's More." After two #1s, five top 5s and four other top 10s, Andy came to a musical crossroad in his life, and this awakening in his restless being caused him to start writing most of his songs and producing his own music. "Heck, I don't know how to produce, I just know what I hear and feel. That's what I want and that's what I have to have." As you listen, to the songs that come out of his voice now, you will realize that he is finally complete and one with his music.

The Mighty Mississippi River Queen Beauty Pageant, sponsored by American Greetings, will also take place at 10 a.m. at one of the three riverfront pavilions. The pageant is open to all ages and will be casual wear only. Other festival activities include a kids' zone with fun things for the little ones, a variety of food options guaranteed to tantalize the taste buds, exposition booths from many local businesses and organizations, the Temps Plus VIP Tent, and a beautiful day of fun and sun with a breathtaking nearly panoramic view of the Mississippi River.

Tickets are $20 at any of the official Big Catch ticket outlets, the chamber offices, or at the gate the day of the festival, or buy them online for $15. Kids under 10 will be admitted for free. Festival goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, but no outside food or beverages are allowed. Nearby offsite parking will be designated with free shuttle transportation to and from Sans Souci Park provided.

To purchase tickets or for more details, including contest registrations, visit www.ArkansasBigCatch.com.

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