Catfish have long been a specialty of Wilmington. Why? Because they played a large part in initiating the event, Catfish Days, after Forked Creek spilled over its banks and flooded the cellars of a section of Wilmington called, “Catfish Town”. This section was located in a hollow behind the Chicago and Alton railroad depot before the turn of the Century.
The first Catfish Days Festival was held in 1976 as a part of the bicentennial celebration of our country. Because of its acceptance and the enthusiasm it engendered, it had become an annual event.
The Wilmington Area Historical Society coordinated the festival the second and third years.
By the sixth year, it had grown so large that a separate Catfish Days Committee sponsored by the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce was established.
1985 would hold the last Catfish Days festival, it would be 14 years before it would be revived. In 1999, the city of Wilmington once again celebrated the festival.
To date, Catfish days is running strong with many things to see and do for all ages!