Guest post by Angie Bailey
Last year I attended the inaugural Internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. It was practically in my backyard and, honestly, I expected maybe several hundred people to attend the screening that happened in an open field beside the Walker. What I didn’t expect was the more than 10,000 spectators who showed up to collectively laugh and “awww!” together while we shared some of our favorite cat videos.
This year, I was one of the 20 jurors for the festival, which was incredibly fun and quite an honor. The fest was moved to the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair. It was no longer free ($12 fair entrance and $10 festival ticket), and a little fewer than 10,000 showed up, which is pretty impressive considering the heat and the cost.
After two bands took the stage, the hosts conducted brief interviews with some true online cat celebrities and/or their humans, which included:
- Will Braden, creator of the French existentialist, Henri, videos
- Paul Klusman and TJ Wingard, better known as “The Cat Engineer Guys”
- Chris Torres, creator of Nyan Cat (dressed as our favorite flying Pop Tart)
- Charlie Schmidt, creator of Keyboard Cat (who sported a bright blue beard)
- Maddy Kelly, the adorable little girl from Kittens Inspired by Kittens video
- Sweet Lil Bub and her human, Mike Bridovsky
- The ever-indifferent Grumpy Cat and her family/entourage
The video reel began and everyone went nuts! You know, cat people just don’t get to connect face to face on this level very often. Thank goodness for a conference like BlogPaws! Dog folks are always outside, walking and hanging out at parks. Cat lovers tend to stay indoors and develop friendships online. It was such an indescribable treat to sit among thousands of fellow feline worshippers and laugh together at a cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba.
Grumpy Cat wound up winning the coveted Golden Kitty award, which Henri scurried away with last year. Fellow BlogPaws blogger, Alana Grelyak (Cat in the Fridge) was runner-up with her clever video called Catalogue. Congrats to Alana!
The only part of the festival that was less-than-fantastic was the fireworks at the end of the night. The host warned us that Lil Bub was stressed and asked us not to clap or scream when she came onto the stage. Then, shortly after that, they set off fireworks, which cats do not like. They even hurt my ears! I sincerely hope they nix that part of the program next year.
Overall, it was a memorable night. I was thrilled to meet some really fun people – how cool that they were all in one place! A cat lady’s paradise, to be sure! I have to say, though, I did miss the more relaxed venue of the Walker. I enjoyed stretching out on a blanket and bringing my own cooler. Also, people could bring their cats last year and there were booths for rescue organizations.
I'ill go again. The spirit of camaraderie and shared love of all things kitty were absolute elation. Everyone was in a fantastic mood, smiled and felt instantly connected to one another. It was like a Grateful Dead concert … but with cats.
About Angie: She is an author, freelance writer, blogger, performer and humorist. Her new book, whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds will release on September 3, 2013. Pictured upper right: Angie and Chris Torres of Nyan Cat. Pictured lower left: Angie and Charlie Schmidt of Keyboard Cat.