People could be seen dancing, relaxing and just enjoying themselves as the nationally known band Shenandoah played for those in attendance at the Catfish Festival in Burnside Saturday night.

“I think they’re (Shen-andoah) really great,” said Kristy Chaney of Burnside. “There’s a lot of people here this year and I think they’re enjoying themselves. It’s really something big for Burnside.”

With the help of the band best known for country hits such as “The Church on Cumberland Road,” “Sunday in the South,” and “Two Dozen Roses”, the festival grew by leaps and bounds.

And throughout the day the band members could be seen mingling with the the festival goers, signing autographs and posing for photos.

“They were so gracious about signing autographs and taking pictures with people,” said Chamber of Commerce member Judy Hatterman. “ ... They thrilled a lot of people by being so gracious.

“We’re just very happy,” said Hatterman, who estimated the crowd on Saturday night to be around 4,000 people.

“It probably tripled the crowd at least for any of the festivals that we’ve done in the last six years,” said Hatterman.

Hatterman said that she knew of people from around Kentucky including Winchester, a couple from Tennessee, and a couple from Florida who were all in attendance at the festival.

“I just liked seeing all the people in Burnside having fun,” said Patty Guinn, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism board member.

Hatterman added that she believed everyone thought the total festival was a big success this year.

This year was the first year the Chamber of Commerce was able to team up with the Burnside Tourism Board, which added several events to the festival including the concert and the fireworks at the end of the evening.

Hatterman added those events, including the investment for the stage, wouldn’t have been possible without the tourism board.

“It was really the first year the tourism board has helped with the festival and I feel it really made a difference,” said Tourism Board member Dona Howard, “making this our first successful festival of what we hope to be many.”

Howard said for the whole festival, she would estimate between 7,000 to 8,000 people were in attendance.

“We really enjoyed (the festival),” said Melissa Hunt of Burnside. “It was really nice this year. It was a lot bigger and the show was great. It’s amazing how much it has grown.”

Another hit for the day included the Catfish Cookoff, an event where people cooked catfish and taste-testers determined the winners.

Howard, who was in charge of that event, said that a lot of people were trying to buy tickets after organizers felt like the maximum number were sold. She said they felt they had to put a maximum number on the event, so those involved could get enough to eat.

“We’re hoping to have more cooks and be able to provide more fish next year,” said Howard.

She added that they would be soliciting people to take part well in advance of next year’s cookoff and would sell tickets before hand as well.

Howard was also in charge of the catfish tournmament that took off from Lee’s Ford Marina. That event had an excellent turnout, she said, with 23 boats participating and excellent support from the Lee’s Ford staff and store.

Following the concert, the event ended with a 25-minute fireworks show.

Helping the whole festival be the success it was, Hatterman said, were not only the sponsors, but others as well.

Hatterman said that Picasso’s donated lunch to Shenandoah, and many other local businesses donated items.

Helping patrol the evening were the Burnside Police, off-duty sheriff’s deputies, vehicle enforcement and security officials.

Hatterman said she talked with Burnside Police Chief Eddie Glover following the festival and there had not been a single arrest and everything had gone smoothly.

Also helping were the Burnside Fire Department, which helped following the festival, and Jailer Mike Harris and inmates, who helped with stage setup prior to the event on Friday.

Other events throughout the festival included the first ever 10K bike ride, a beauty pageant, a parade, a horseshoe tournament, square dancing, Karaoke, Burnside Little League games, a Mustang Mafia Car Show, the 2-to-5-year Tricycle/Training Wheels Bike Race, gospel music, a Corvette Show, and an antique show. Contests included a watermelon eating contest, horseshoe tournament, catfish eating contest, and the tall fish tale. Children were also able to play on an inflatable play land, pony rides and a petting zoo.

And though this year was a success, those planning it are already are thinking about next year.

Hatterman said they hope to get more financial support from local businesses, get more volunteers, and for the festival to grow.

Howard added that they also hope to extend the festival and add events.

“Our long range goal is to be listed as one of the top ten festivals in the state,” said Hatterman.

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