Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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June 19, 2014

Noodling fun for just about anyone — Hand fishermen all over are likely getting ready to haul in the biggest catfish they can for a Pauls Valley noodling event that’s grown in a big way.

What started as a fairly small gathering 15 years ago has grown into an event that now garners worldwide interest.

This year’s version of the Okie Noodling Tournament comes on Saturday, June 21 at PV’s Wacker Park.

Combining forces to put together the tourney are officials with the city of Pauls Valley, PV Chamber of Commerce and Main Street PV.

Erin Creach, local tourism director, knows big fish are the real draw.

She also knows there will be plenty of other things to draw the attention of festival-goers.

“We’re expecting an attendance of around 10,000,” Creach said.

“It definitely offers something for everyone,” she said. “Bring some sun screen and your lawn chair and get ready for a fun-filled day.”

It all gets going around 10 a.m. Saturday with main activities again centering around the local park’s band shell.

Besides the catches of noodlers, the festival features a catfish eating contest, a noodling demonstration and an expanded pageant for the title of Okie Noodling queen.

There is also live entertainment with the Mike McClure Band, a number of food trucks, a variety of vendor booths and ample shade to keep the crowd on the cool side.

Taking center stage are the mouth dropping size of the whoppers caught by noodlers with their bare hands.

“Noodlers can check in anytime during the day,” Creach said. “They can start coming in early and keep on coming as the afternoon progresses.

“It’s exciting to see what these fishermen can bring in in a sport where they only use their bare hands.

“I’ve never personally noodled, but I can see how it’s an adrenaline rush.”

For the tournament noodlers can begin fishing the night before but must stop during the overnight hours.

They can then resume their fishing the morning of the festival, right up until the time they come in for the fish weigh-in.

Then comes the ooh’s and ahh’s of the crowd’s cheers as noodlers bring in the catfish.

“I’m also excited in welcoming all the noodling enthusiasts to visit our water park from noon to 6 p.m. that day,” Creach added in a reference to the new water facility next to the Reynolds Recreation Park, also located in Wacker Park.

More about the noodling festival and the queen pageant can be found at online.

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