FIREWORKS, FISHING, & BLUEGRASS THIS JULY 4TH IN West Tennessee
I just returned from a weekend of boating and camping on the Tennessee River. Note I didn’t mention fishing…that’s because my skill lies in eating fish – not angling for it. But I did see several others casting, and landing, sizeable catfish.
Down in Savannah, Tennessee (the “Catfish Capital of the World”), you can weigh in any catfish you catch weekly through July 5 – as long as you catch it on the town’s iconic Tennessee River. This “National Catfish Derby” culminates in the July 6 World Championship of Catfishing. Following the championship, the one-day winner, as well as weekly derby winners, will be announced and awarded cash and prizes.
Chatting with Hardin County Tourism Director Rachel Baker made me feel better about my lack of skill. “One week of the derby, you might win with a four-pounder. Another week, someone might win with a 40-pounder,” she explained, recalling that 40 pounds is the biggest catch she’s seen so far during this year’s derby, which began June 1. If you decide to take a shot, weigh in at Savannah’s Historic Botel or the BP gas station at Main and Wayne.
If you’d rather skip straight to the party, head to Pickwick Landing State Park July 6 at 3 p.m., where you can witness the final weigh-in and proclamation of winners. The Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau will even provide free catfish and live music. Call Rachel at 731-925-8181 for more info on entering the derby or the championship, or getting to the party on the 6th.
If I were you, I’d roll into town a few days prior. July 4 at 9 p.m., Pickwick Landing State Park will put on one heck-of-a fireworks show over the water (Pickwick Lake and the Tennessee River define the park). The show is free and open to the public. Make a weekend of it by overnighting in the park: The state’s new online reservation system lets you reserve campsites or rooms at the park inn – even tee times on Pickwick’s golf course.
July 5 at 6 p.m., the 35th Annual Savannah Bluegrass Festival sounds off in Wayne Jerrolds Park on the banks of the Tennessee. Jerrolds, a Grand Ole Opry fiddler and “Bluegrass Boy” with the Bill Monroe Band, lives nearby and founded the festival. Concerts continue Saturday at 1 p.m. on Court Square in downtown Savannah. Admission both days is free and concessions will be available – just bring a lawn chair or blanket. Bonus: Saturday morning (July 6), Savannah Main Street will host “Bluegrass, Breakfast and Art” downtown – browse the art vendors and grab a free Savannah sausage dog until the bluegrass resumes.
Where’s your favorite spot in Tennessee to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July? Tell me in the comments section below!