It was the early 1950s when Cecil Parris put the small southern Tennessee town of Savannah on the map. Parris ran a toy-gun business in Savannah, but his return packages often got sent to that other Savannah in Georgia. So Parris, a catfishing enthusiast, visited the local post office and convinced them to add “Catfish Capital of the World” to the postmark used to cancel mail. The title stuck, and it’s as appropriate today as it was half a century ago.
Savannah sits on the Tennessee River, a world-class destination for anglers hoping to catch jumbo blue, channel and flathead catfish. The city celebrates its claim to fame every year with the National Catfish Derby, a six-week fishing rodeo in June and July. Events include a catfish cook-off, a catfish skin-off and the tournament itself, started by Cecil Parris in 1953. All three events are billed as “world championships.”
For more info on the city, its catfishing legacy and fishing opportunities, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. (800-552-3866; tour hardincounty.org) –Keith Sutton