Last year I covered the first annual Internet Cat Video Festival in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center. It was really quite perfect: We brought coolers of refreshments and stretched out on the grass, watching great music and a reel of the best cat videos on the Internet. When I say “we,” I mean more than 10,000 cat-crazy spectators. It was truly magical.
There were a few changes that came with this year’s shindig. First, I got to be one of the 20 jurors! Excitement! I also received a press pass, which made me feel really important, but really it just meant that I could take photos from the foot of the stage. And honestly, my husband wound up wearing the pass and taking the photos, which made me feel extra-important because I kind of had staff.
The festival was moved the to Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair, a stage which hosted Depeche Mode the previous night (insert ’80s fangirl squeal). I’ve lived in Minnesota more than 20 years, and it’s kind of a big deal to perform at the Grandstand. Well, the Internet Cat Video Festival is a big deal. Nearly 10,000 spectators filled the seats to watch the likes of Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub grace the three giant video screens, as well as the stage.
I was initially surprised that the attendance was lower than last year’s, but then I considered that attendees had to pay to enter the fair, and then pay for the festival ticket, equaling about $20 per person. And you couldn’t bring a cooler into the Grandstand, so you pay a bazillion dollars for a bottle or water or cup of beer. All things considered, I thought the turnout was still impressive.
Here are 6 of my favorite things about this years video festival.
I first met Lil Bub and her human, Mike Bridavsky, at last year’s festival; however, I was just one face in a crowd. This year, my fancy press pass and credentials got me up close and personal with the adorable little Internet sensation. Mike told me she was starting to feel stressed out and they planned to head back home to Indiana after the festival. After that, she begins her tour. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can still qualify to win a ticket to attend a screening of Lil Bub and Friendz, as well as a meet-and-greet with the sweet girl.
OK, the festival was cool and everything, but I would have changed one thing. Before Bub took the stage, the host asked us to refrain from clapping or shouting, stating that Bub was feeling stressed and the noise would upset her. Everyone respectfully complied. Then, the festival ended with an eardrum-bursting show of fireworks right over the Grandstand. Poor Lil Bub had barely left the stage! First of all, cats and fireworks don’t mix, and secondly, didn’t they just tell us that she’s super stressed by loud noises? I hope organizers eliminate that part of the festival next year.
I felt like I was at Catlady Disney World! Forget Mickey Mouse, I got a hug from a costumed Chris Torres, creator of Nyan Cat!
Let me tell you about Charlie Schmidt, creator of the legendary Keyboard Cat. He was way beyond wacky and sported a bright blue beard.
Cat engineer guys! Yay! These cutie pies who are famous for their viral video, “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats.”
Finally, Grumpy Cat (who took home the coveted Golden Kitty award) and her family took the stage and everyone melted just a little bit — and not just from the heat. She’s so tiny and seems quite comfortable in the spotlight. She and Lil Bub went nose-to-nose, but then Bub wanted no part of the meeting that everyone was hoping might result in the explosion of the Internet.
A cat video festival is one of the all-time best places to people-watch. I love basking in the glory of these people who scoff at convention and don their best wigs, face paint and cat ears (mechanical and otherwise) to collectively fly their freak flags among other cat lovers.
This is one of the reasons I love cat people — call us crazy, but we couldn’t care less. We live with furry little beings who constantly push the idiosyncratic envelope, why wouldn’t we?
The festival opens with live music and one of this year’s bands is one of my new favorites! They’re called Koo Koo Kanga Roo and they play bizarre and insanely fabulous music that is beyond silly. If you enjoy my humor pieces on Catster, these guys are your cup of tea. My favorite song they performed was, “I Spent $10,000 On My Cat’s Birthday.” You must give them a listen!
Each year at the fair, an artist creates butter sculptures of Minnesota State Fair royalty like Princess Kay of the Milky Way. It’s a thing … I know two past princesses. Anyhow, this year, Animal Planet (which live-streamed the whole festival) sponsored an artist who created a butter sculpture of a cat. There’s not much more I can say about this.
Truly, the best part about attending the Cat Video Festival is sharing the love of cat videos with others who love them just as much as I do. We laugh together while watching a cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba, smile together as we watch Henri the French existentialist, and our voices join in a collective “awww!” more than a few times.
What’s so special is that most of us watch these videos alone, sitting in front of a computer screen. Cat people don’t regularly get to connect in person. We don’t have parks like dogs do. At this festival, kindred spirits rejoiced in the love of all things cat!
About the Author: Angie Bailey is a goofy girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.
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