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‘Internet Cat Video Festival’ draws thousands downtown

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On Sept. 27, thousands of Art Prize attendees gathered in Rosa Parks Circle to watch videos of cats.

The “Internet Cat Video Festival,” started by Walker Art Center as a part of the Minnesota State Fair, traveled to Grand Rapids as an official Art Prize event.

The showing of the 75 minute compilation of videos was not an Art Prize submission but an event offered free of charge. More than 1,000 people came to watch the videos.

The Internet Cat Video Contest is an international cat video competition. The contest for “best video” is internet based, and submissions came from all over the world.

The Internet Cat Video Contest was first held last year, and the compilation of the videos debuted at the Minnesota State Fair. The contest was held again this year, where the best  videos were shown again at the State Fair on Aug. 28. More than 10,000 people came to watch internet cat videos together at the State Fair.

Walker Art Center started the “Internet Cat Video Festival” as an experiment combining individual activities and social activities. Watching cat videos online is an individual activity, but watching cat videos online projected onto a large screen with 1,000 other people is a social activity.

Some people enjoyed the video showing at Art Prize, while others found it strange.

Calvin College alumna Marie Vogel also attended the video showing.

“I have a soft spot for cat videos,” Vogel said, “and have to agree with the creators of the festival that cat videos bring people together. Plus, I’d never seen Grumpy Cat on a big screen, and figured that was a rite of passage for all internet-loving millennials.”

Vogel said the video showing was a good experience. Many attendees wore cat-ears or make-up to the showing, and many children seemed excited to watch the videos.

“It was clear some people had gotten ready together before coming,” Vogel said, “which reinforced the idea that some of the things we do independently are more fun together. It was really fun to all laugh together and be surprised together,” Vogel said.

Vogel found some of the videos less intriguing, and she said some of the foreign Internet cat videos moved slower than she was used to. Overall, Vogel enjoyed her experience.

“The ridiculousness of it all — going downtown to sit on the ground with strangers and watch cat videos — made everything much funnier,” Vogel said.

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