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Catfish fest reels 'em in
KINGSLAND -- Thousands crowded into downtown Kingsland Monday to celebrate the final day of the 31st Annual Labor Day Catfish Festival.

Organizers said the festival was expected to draw more than 50,000 people during the three-day event, which began Saturday.

Barbara Rowland, one of the festival volunteers, said crowds have been good throughout the weekend, with no glitches reported.

"Everything's been going pretty well," she said. "It's been a good crowd."

Monday, people gathered early for the annual Labor Day parade. The parade featured floats, the Camden High School marching band, cheerleaders, antique cars and tractors and political candidates in convertibles waving to supporters.

While the parade was going on, Chief Jamahl Mumford, a cook at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, was making preparations for another busy day. Mumford, some command staff members from the base and a group of Sea Cadets are the ones responsible for the festival's signature catfish dinners, with all the trimmings.

Mumford said most of the volunteers had no experience cooking for thousands of people, so he organized everything to simplify the many tasks.

"The way the stations are set up, anyone can do it," he said.

Most of the volunteers work four-hour shifts, but some have worked an entire day serving or preparing meals, Mumford said.

This will be the last Catfish Festival Mumford said he will be able to participate in because he is transferring to a duty station in Hawaii in December. "This will be my final big community service project before I leave," he said.

After the parade, people swarmed into the area where vendors sold arts, crafts and antiques. Those who didn't have an appetite for farm-raised catfish dinners had other options at food booths scattered throughout the festival site.

Organizers said they will take about a month off before they begin planning for next year's festival.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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