The Catfish Capital of the World

In an effort to add a little more local flavor, we are working on a few projects in the Burlington Branch. We actually completed our first project last winter by creating a display of a variety of historical artifacts of significance to the history of the Burlington Library. These items included a letter from the Carnegie Institute, the original donation of 300 books to begin the collection in 1884, an invitation to the 1913 dedication of the 1913 Carnegie Library, and several other pieces.

Currently, we are working out the details on a display highlighting the catfishing heritage in our region. Burlington is “The Catfish Capital of the World”. I discovered this while researching the town prior to applying for my current position. I thought it was a great title and couldn’t wait to learn why Burlington, KS claimed this title. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear or see much regarding the title besides the metal signs on the edge of town. As I began to get to know more people in the community, I came to realize that catfishing is still a common pastime in the area and people are proud of the catfishing opportunities. You don’t have to look too hard or do too much prompting when in the presence of locals to find a good catfishing story. Telling these stories is what this project is all about.

There are four main components to our display:

  • A trophy (or replica trophy) which played a key part in stoking the fire of the rivalry between Chetopa, KS and Burlington, KS over claims of being “The Real Catfish Capital”
  • The actual sign proudly displayed along Highway 75 proclaiming Burlington as “The Real Catfish Capitol of Kansas”.
  • A digital display featuring images of catfish and locals as well as information about the display
  • A Large Mounted Flathead Catfish

To make the project more meaningful to our community, we are asking for everyone who has a family picture or a story to please share with us. We will include these local pictures and stories in our display. We hope these stories and artifacts will inspire conversation and storytelling as well as reinvigorate the community as we proudly proclaim Burlington as “The Catfish Capital of the World” today, tomorrow, and forever.

For more information about how Burlington became the Catfish Capital of the World click here.

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