Every year, on the third Thursday in August, the population triples for four hours in Grady, a small farming community in Southeast Arkansas where the local Lions Club hosts a catfish supper that draws people from all over the state. They’ve been at it for 57 years, raising funds for community projects as well as Lions Club projects.
The crowd gathers in a pecan grove on Ned Hardin’s farm where guests are entertained by the Cummins prison band while enjoying catfish, fries, hushpuppies, watermelon, and iced tea served by Lions Club members and prisoners from the nearby prison.
Meanwhile, politicians work the crowd and visit with constituents while a few curious guests gather at the 57-year-old hushpuppy machine, made especially for the Grady fish fry.
The late M.E. Argo, a machinist and Grady Lions Club member, made the hushpuppy machine in his welding shop more than a half a century ago. Fifty-seven years later, the contraption is still spitting out hushpuppies, two at a time, into the hot grease.
Grady Lions Club member Wayne Isaacs demonstrates how it works in the following video.
While the number of attendees has not yet been tallied, Lions Club members predict this year’s attendance will be as high, maybe higher, than last year’s crowd of about 1,400. “It’s anybody’s guess,” Grady Lions Club secretary/treasurer Jane Buchan said as she looked at the dwindling stack of meal tickets and the line of people still waiting to purchase one.
The Cummins prison band covering Eric Clapton’s Lay Down Sally while the crowd enjoys their catfish dinner with all the trimmings.