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The Walker Art Center Ends the Internet Cat Video Festival, So CatCon Steps in With a Plan

As the museum gives up the event, CatCon partners with the festival's former producer.

Keith Bowers  |  Mar 11th 2016


The Internet Cat Video Festival, which drew some 10,000 people during its first year in 2012 at a Minneapolis art museum, is getting a new home. The Walker Art Center told the StarTribune that it will no longer host the event, and that it’s giving much of the memorabilia to the Minnesota Historical Society. Soon after that story was published, CatCon announced a partnership with Will Braden — producer and curator of the video festival as well as the creator of Henri Le Chat Noir — to bring the same event to the annual conference billed as “like Comic-Con … for cat people.”

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Braden’s new project will be called CatVideoFest. A press release from CatCon describes the video endeavor as nonprofit to benefit cats in need around the country. The release states that it will premiere each year in conjunction with CatCon.

“We are longtime fans of Will’s accomplishments in the cat video realm, not just in his curation of the Internet Cat Video Festival for the past two years, but his endlessly entertaining take on the world around us via his cat, Henri, le Chat Noir,” CatCon creator Susan Michals wrote in the release. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Will, as there is no man who knows the ins and out of the wonderful world of cat videos better than he.”

Here are Henri’s parting thoughts on the festival’s run at the Walker Art Center:

Michals describes CatCon as a “convention celebrating groundbreaking products and ideas for cats and their people.” It took place in Los Angeles for the first time in 2015, drawing more than 12,000 people and sponsors including Rachel Ray Nutrish cat food. More than 70 cats were adopted at the event, and the beneficiary was FixNation.

This year’s event will be presented by Hill’s Science Diet and Petco in downtown Los Angeles, June 25-26. The main venue will be at a facility called the Reef; CatVideoFest is among events happening at the nearby Ace Theater. Michals says three showings are scheduled during the weekend.

Full disclosure: I was MC at CatCon last year and will play the same role this year.

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That’s me on the left, backstage with Rob Reger, the artist behind Emily the Strange.

Braden’s Henri has reached more than 20 million viewers on YouTube since its debut in 2012. Braden won the Golden Kitty Award at the first Internet Cat Video Festival.

The video fest was created by Scott Stulen for the Walker, Michals says, although Stulen left the museum to work for the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2013. Braden later took over and became the face of the fest. For two years, Braden has taken the show around the U.S. and the world, presenting the best cat videos culled from annual submissions that total near 12,000.

To date the festival has visited more than 200 cities in nine countries to hundreds of thousands of fans.

Read more by Keith Bowers:

About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster.