Sunday, May 30, 2010

Celebrating a giant ugly fish

Dunnville, Ontario is celebrating 150 years this year with festivities beginning in just a few days with the opening of its yearly Mudcat Festival. Annually, the town is alive with a midway, parade, fireworks, dance, vendors, tourists, returning locals; it’s a typical fair venue. This year, the fun will extend the entire summer, to commemorate the 1860 beginning of the village of Dunnville. It wouldn’t become a town until 1900. The Mudcat, your average catfish, although not a very attractive fish, has become the symbol of a small community situated near Lake Erie, a few miles down from the mouth of the Grand River, approximately two hours from Toronto. According to legend, during the early days of local hockey, a neighbouring team referred to the Dunnville players as mudcats, bottom-feeders, and losers. This got back to the Dunnville team who retaliated by dumping mudcats, slimy, shining fish with whiskers, on the ice after their next game, and triumph, against the offending other team. Dunnville adopted the bottom-feeder as its team mascot and although the history of the symbol isn’t well known anymore, the town still celebrates its unique pride and identity. This past year, a giant mudcat, fondly named Muddy, was erected at the entrance to the town, along Highway 3, in the style of Sudbury’s giant nickel or the Wawa goose. Rural culture is a unique experience and the giant mudcat is a genuine, cultural phenomena.

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