EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” Mark Twain once wrote, after a newspaper mistakenly published his obituary.

The same, it can be said, applies to the Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament, and for participants and others who enjoy the venerable East Grand Forks fishing event, that’s good news indeed.

Cats Incredible, by all indications, is alive and well.

As I reported in this space two weeks ago, the East Grand Forks firefighters union — International Association of Firefighters Local 3423 — which has run Cats Incredible since 2013, was concerned about the low number of teams that had signed up to fish the tournament, which is set for July 27-28 on the Red River out of LaFave Park in East Grand Forks.

Cats Incredible is open to 125 two-person teams, and the number of teams officially on the books at that point was closer to 25. If at least 60 teams weren’t signed up by early July, organizers were thinking about canceling Cats Incredible for this year.

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The scenario since has taken a major turn for the better. Cats Incredible has ramped up its social media presence with daily posts on its Facebook page, and at last count, more than 50 teams were signed up to fish.

It’s good to see the tourney, an East Grand Forks fixture since 1988, appears to be back on track.

Cats Incredible events will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, July 26, with a meeting for competing anglers at tournament headquarters.

Fishing hours are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27-28, with tournament boundaries from Riverside Dam upstream to Frog Point, a distance of 38 river miles; daily weigh-ins will be at LaFave Park. There’s also a street dance planned for 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, July 27, at the tournament headquarters site.

There’s still time for anglers to get off the fence and sign up for Cats Incredible. The entry fee is $230 per two-person team. Sign up online at www.catsincredibletournament.com or fill out the website entry form and mail to IAFF Local 3423, 415 Fourth St. NW, East Grand Forks MN 56721.

For more updates on Cats Incredible, check out the tournament’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/catsincredible, call (218) 399-3474 and leave a message or send an email to iafflocal3423@yahoo.com.

Showy and spectacular

Showy lady's slippers grow in a ditch in northern Minnesota on Sunday, June 24, 2019. The lighter-colored lady's slippers in the background were just beginning to bloom. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)
Showy lady's slippers grow in a ditch in northern Minnesota on Sunday, June 24, 2019. The lighter-colored lady's slippers in the background were just beginning to bloom. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)

Last year about this time, I was pleasantly surprised to find pink lady’s slippers growing in a ditch on our property in northern Minnesota. The discovery marked the first time I’d ever seen these wild orchids — Minnesota’s state flower — growing on our land.

I was pleasantly surprised to find them in the same place again last weekend.

Late June and early July is prime time for these flowers — also known as showy lady’s slippers — and a nearby wildlife management area had an abundance of the state flowers that were just beginning to bloom two weeks ago when three of us took a drive through the area.

According to information I found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, showy lady’s slippers grow “in spruce and tamarack bogs, swamps, wet meadows, wet prairies and cool, damp woods” and can be found anywhere in Minnesota where these habitats exist.

That explains why they’ve recently appeared on our property and thrive on public lands in northwest Minnesota such as Roseau River Wildlife Management Area, Beltrami Island State Forest and Tamarack National Wildlife Refuge, to name just a few places.

A few more showy lady’s slipper tidbits from the DNR website:

  • Minnesota has regulated the collection and commercial sale of showy lady’s slippers since 1925. Look, but don’t touch, in other words. And definitely don’t pick.

  • In its first year, the showy lady’s slipper grows only as tall as a pencil point.

  • Showy lady’s slippers may produce half a million seeds a year, each of “which are as fine as flour dust.”

  • Showy lady’s slippers may live to be up to 100 years old.

  • Even though they’re Minnesota’s state flower, showy lady’s slippers aren’t common and “can be hurt by wetland drainage, road construction, tree cuttings and illegal picking and uprooting.” Spraying herbicides along road edges also can hurt the plants.

For more information on these spectacular flowers, check out the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov and type “showy lady’s slipper” in the search window.