Cats Incredible Fishing Tournament and DockDogs draws all ages to East Grand Forks
The catfish tournament was set for Saturday and Sunday with the DockDogs competition beginning Friday night and continuing into Sunday.
EAST GRAND FORKS — Families and people of all ages flocked to East Grand Forks this weekend at the 34th Annual Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament, which also featured its second DockDogs competition after its inaugural appearance last year.
Attendees basked in the sun and take in the competitions, as well as participate in them. The catfish tournament was set for Saturday and Sunday with the DockDogs competition beginning Friday night and continuing into Sunday. A multitude of vendors were also present selling hotdogs, hamburgers, beer and more to keep people entertained and well-fed throughout the weekend’s event.
Kathy Hawkins had not been to Cats Incredible in years, but wanted to take her young granddaughter, who likes the “fishes and the doggies,” to the event Saturday.
Hawkins said they were able to keep cool during the event by sitting at the metal benches under the large green- and white-striped tent where the anglers weighed in the catfish they caught.
The majority of the attendees filled grandstands near the Red River to watch dogs compete for the longest jump into a nearly 40-foot-long pool. Contestants of all ages brought their dogs to the DockDogs tournament, which is an Ohio-based competition with Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve events . It began in 2000 and bills itself as “the fastest growing sport on 4 legs.”
The dogs’ trainers consisted of men, women and even children, who led their canines one by one to jump off of a makeshift dock in the grass just east of the banks of the Red River. They walked onto a turf stage serving as a runway to leap into the pool after a chew toy, rope or other object of interest.
One of the youngest DockDogs trainers was Carissa Wadena, who brought her one-year-old Belgian Malinois Arkham, named for Arkham Asylum from the Batman comic book series, to the competition. They came from Mahnomen, Minnesota, to compete in the event for the first time in Grand Forks. They competed in Fargo last year, when Wadena began training Arkham.
A more experienced competitor, Downtown Henry competes with a Superman cape his owners bought off Amazon, and his trainer Susan Hoffman wears a t-shirt with the Superman logo to match. He is a four-year-old Goldendoodle named for where he and his trainer live – downtown Sioux Falls.
Downtown Henry, who has been preparing for competition since he was a year old, travels to around four or five different DockDogs events each summer with other dogs from Sioux Falls who all compete in the events. They staked out their own corner of the event space just behind the DockDogs stage with tents and signage for each of the other Sioux Falls dogs competing in the event. Downtown Henry’s banner features a picture of him jumping after a ball in his usual Superman outfit.
Hoffman spoke about what goes into the preparation for the events.
“The most important thing is the dog has to have a very strong toy drive,” Hoffman said. “They have to be motivated to go after the toy to jump in the water. And then after that, it's just pure building your relationship with your dog and having a lot of fun.”
Hoffman emphasized the “fun” aspect of it all. While competing is great, if you’re not having fun, then you’re not doing it right — and Downtown Henry has a lot of fun jumping into the water after his favorite toy.
“He loves his orange ball,” Hoffman said. “He lives for that orange ball.”