This is it. It’s finally here. Cats take over your world right meow.

As I said earlier this week, tongue not even remotely in cheek, there has never been a film event bigger or more important than this gargantuan sequel to last year’s Internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker.

Decades from now when your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren are waiting in queue for their required hourly retinal scan and receipt of the day’s scheduled citizen tasks, all to be performed at night because daylight hours were long ago declared unfit for human exposure, and the little tykes asking with only some semblance of enthusiasm in their voices about what life was like before the sun went down for good, your first memory will be of gathering in the Grandstand with thousands of other Minnesotans on one of the hottest weeks of the year and bonding over videos you could all call up on your work computer during the lunch hour. The communal experience will surpass anything else you can recall. And the fest’s absence from what will then be your present day experience will haunt your daymares. And not just because the world has been overtaken by the creatures that used to have the proverbial nine lives but, thanks to genetic mutation, now boast 72.

The first #catvidfest installment’s popular and viral success was astonishing (to the tune of 10,000 spectators). It has taken to the road and soon will be scratching posts in areas as far-flung as Vienna and Jerusalem. Knowing it was a tough act to follow, organizers had no choice but to move it to the largest venue they could think of — the Great Minnesota Get-Together. OK, sure, that means now what was once a free event costs an admission fee (actually two, since you have to pay to get into the State Fair as well), but that’s the price we Minnesotans pay for being on the vanguard of feline discourse.

The first Internet Cat Video Festival was a grassroots surprise, but damned if the Walker and the State Fair powers that be aren’t pulling out all stops to make sure lightning doesn’t strike twice. To wit:

  • The festival will be hosted by New York comic and podcaster extraordinaire Julie Klausner, who will also be starring in a new Funny or Die video produced especially for the festival.
  • The totes adorbs dwarf cat Lil’ Bub will be back, live in the fur, but will be joined by an all-star roster of cats and their human pets, including the one and only Grumpy Cat (who is also scheduled to appear on WCCO 4 At the Fair today between 4:30 and 5 p.m., so stay tuned) and Minneapolis’s own Pudge the Cat.
  • Will Braden, who won le grand prix at last year’s festival for his oh so Godardian Henri Le Chat Noir #2, will be on hand as a new Golden Kitty Award is awarded to this year’s people’s choice winner. The prize will be a trophy designed by Hasbro (in conjunction with their new cat Monopoly piece).
  • The creators of some of YouTube’s greatest cat video hits will be there too, including Charlie Schmidt (Keyboard Cat), Maddie Kelly (Kittens Inspired By Kittens), Chris Torres (Nyan Cat) and Paul Klusman and TJ Wingard (An Engineer’s Guide to Cats). Some of them were among the first-ever recipients of #catvidfest’s Lifetime Achievement Awards.
  • In addition to last year’s “programs” — Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Foreign, Musical, and Lifetime Achievement — this year will see the addition of the new “Cat-on-a-Stick” category for homegrown efforts.

The event’s organizers certainly have the cat-munity’s enthusiasm, to judge by some of the art that’s showed up at the crop art displays. Artist Kim Cope, who also has a short included in the “Cat-on-a-Stick” program (note: YouTube video link is only a rough draft; what will screen this evening will be further polished and edited), didn’t finish this piece before the deadline for display, so consider this image a bonus track:

(credit: Kimberly Cope)

(credit: Kimberly Cope)

There’s even a cat butter head, which will be revealed at the event.

If that’s not enough, head back over to the Walker on Thursday evening for a free discussion, “Going Viral: The Life of a Cat Video Creator.”

Personally, I cannot wait to see the look on Grumpy Cat’s face when those fireworks start at the fair.

And, though I have no personal knowledge of what made this year’s program, if there’s any justice, this one’s a late-breaking entry:

Eric Henderson

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