IAFF Saves Catfish in North Dakota

April 10, 2013
Grand Forks firefighters are taking over the annual catfish tournament.

April 10--East Grand Forks firefighters came to the rescue Tuesday.

However, this time, they weren't saving anyone in a burning building. Instead, they were saving Cats Incredible, a catfish tournament on the Red River since 1988.

The International Association of Firefighters Local 3423, the union representing the Fire Department's nine full-time employees, has stepped forward to manage the summer event.

They're taking over from the local Chamber of Commerce, which had vowed to cancel the tournament without a full field of 125 two-person teams.

However, local union president Jeff Anderson said the July 27-28 tournament is a go, no matter how many teams are in the tournament, the centerpiece of the Catfish Days celebration that is held in the Greenway downtown.

"We decided to make this happen if it's full or not," Anderson said. "Our idea is to slowly build it back up to what it used to be.

"We don't want this event to go away."

The union's involvement is also for money-raising purposes. Anderson said any profit will be donated to local charities or used to buy fire equipment.

Barry Wilfahrt, Chamber president and CEO, said entries number in the low 80s. His organization, which has been involved since the event's start, will assist with this year's event.

"They will be the lead organization, but we'll work with them every step of the way," Wilfahrt said. "Our staff is committed to make sure there's a smooth transition.

"Anytime you can bring in fresh faces and volunteers, you get a new spirit and new enthusiasm. They will provide a fresh boost for Catfish Days."

Anderson is not a newcomer to catfishing. He was one of the organizers of the weekly local catfish league and also has participated in an estimated 10 Cats Incredible tournaments. He said his co-workers also have event-organizing experience, having run a fire fighters' national hockey tournament.

The tournament's future is uncertain, however.

"We'll get through this year, let the dust settle, reevaluate everything and see if we want to continue," Anderson said.


Call Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1125; or send email to [email protected].

Copyright 2013 - Grand Forks Herald

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