2021 Fiddler Fest in Newburgh Has Been Cancelled, But Not Because of COVID
2021 has been a refreshing change when it comes to public events. Compared to what I am now calling "The Year That Shall Not Be Named" (Harry Potter fans will get that reference), we've been able to share announcements of events that will be happening instead of telling you they're being cancelled because of COVID. But, like any rule, there are exceptions. As is the case with the annual Newburgh Fiddler Fest which organizers announced Thursday would not be happening again this year. However, the reason has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, not in the way you might think anyway.
For years, Fiddler Fest has taken place at the Old Lock and Dam Park and featured two days worth (usually a Friday evening and all-day Saturday) of live music, a beer garden, local vendors selling a variety of items, and of course catfish fiddler dinners. Like everything else last year, organizers were forced to cancel the event due to the pandemic, but this year the problem is they can't find any catfish to fry.
In a post on Facebook late Thursday night, Friends of Newburgh, Inc., the group responsible for hosting Fiddler Fest each year said, "There are no catfish fiddlers to be found from any suppliers."
I did some searching to see why that was the case, and it turns out there is a catfish shortage nationwide. In a market report they published earlier this year, catfish supplier, Heartland Catfish in Itta Bena, Mississippi said, a "lower-than-usual" supply of farm-raised catfish has been happening industry-wide since late-2020. That shortage has continued into the first half of this year. They went on to say the fish that are being raised are smaller than normal, labor shortages, and "a few deep freezes across the Southeast" earlier this year have also impacted the supply.
The good news is, they anticipated a more productive growing and harvesting season would come. However, it obviously didn't come soon enough to allow Fiddler Fest to happen. Fiddlers crossed Friends of Newburgh will be able to bring it back in 2022.
[Sources: Friends of Newburgh, Inc. on Facebook / Heartland Farms Q1 2021: Market Check-In]