On Sunday, Oct. 2 from noon to 4 p.m. at Cahaba Brewing, teams of culinary competitors will vie to see whose catfish, sides, and desserts can win one of the coveted frying pan trophies at the 13th annual Cahaba River Fry-Down.
Now in its 13th year, Fry-Down is the largest fundraiser for the Cahaba River Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life.
Festival-goers can indulge in all-you-can-eat catfish, sides, and desserts, as well as a bar of signature cocktails and craft beers, while enjoying a festive, family-friendly, educational, carnival-like atmosphere with live music, dancing, and a abundance of activities included with admission.
“We love getting to sample the variety of dishes that teams prepare each year,” said Russell Hooks of Happenin’s in the ‘Ham, one of the celebrity judges at this year’s festival. “The hardest part is deciding which food is our favorite! We love that this event always has such a great turnout for an incredible cause.”
The panel of twelve judges—which includes restaurateur Chris Hastings, Homewood City Counselor Carlos E. Alemán, Birmingham Times Executive Editor Barnett Wright, and radio personality and food critic Comedienne Joy—will select winners in categories such as “Best Dressed” (Best Presentation), “Fish with an Attitude” (Most Creative), and “Baddest Fish in the River” (Best Overall). Festival participants will vote for their favorite team to win of the prestigious “Crowd Favorite” award.
Live entertainment will include Margeaux and the Cat’s Meow with an eclectic medley of swing, funk, groove and jazz, as well as dance performances by Dala Tribal Bellydance and Magic City Disco. Kids of all ages will enjoy a climbing wall, face painting, hula hooping, martial arts, drone flights, fly fishing, and more.
Guests can experience the “Cahaba River Adventure,” an interactive stroll through a series of exhibits and activities that evoke the feeling of traveling down the river, encountering its finned, furry, scaly, and feathered wildlife, and discovering places to enjoy the river and opportunities to protect it.
Visitors can let their creativity flow during an immersive native species exhibit by local artist Celeste Pfau, where they’ll create their own Cahaba-themed art piece to take home. Kids and adults can let their literary sides flourish with poetry and prose fiction workshops led by Jacob Frazier and Halley Cotton from UAB’s English Department. Workshop participants will have a chance to share their work with the crowd at open mic sessions.
“The Cahaba River is not only one of the most biologically diverse rivers on the planet; it’s also a primary drinking water source for the Greater Birmingham area,” said Cahaba River Society Executive Director Beth Stewart. “We are thrilled to host this year’s festival at Cahaba Brewing, a local business that depends on the Cahaba’s water to make its product. In river ecology, you talk a lot about watersheds, the land around a river that is part of its system. In our work, we also consider the Cahaba ‘Peopleshed,’ which consists of the million plus people and businesses that depend on the Cahaba for their water. The Cahaba belongs to all of us, and everyone is welcome at Fry-Down and on the river.”
“We’ve always been passionate about supporting local. Not only are we named for the Cahaba River, but we couldn’t craft our excellent beer without it,” said Eric Meyer, Brewmaster and Co-Founder of Cahaba Brewing. “That’s why we support the Cahaba River Society every chance we get. From donating a portion of sales from our Cahaba Lily Lager to organizing clean-ups to hosting the Fry-Down, we’re happy to help in keeping the Cahaba River watershed thriving.”
Tickets are $20, and children under 12 are free. Admission includes all-you-can-eat catfish, sides, and desserts as well as all activities. Tickets can be purchased at www.frydown.com.
Cahaba River Society is an educator, expert resource, and collaborative partner for science-based, practical solutions that inspires river stewardship by connecting people with the Cahaba for education, recreation, arts and volunteerism, and have served over 41,800 youth with education in the river. It restores the river by promoting green Infrastructure and advocating for better policies and practices for clean water, natural flows, and diverse, healthy wildlife and people.
Learn more at www.cahabariversociety.org
Full Disclosure: Birmingham Times Executive Editor Barnett Wright is one of the judges