Custom-Made Cookin’ Cats Trophies are ‘Keepers’

Custom-Made Cookin’ Cats Trophies are ‘Keepers’
Custom-Made Cookin' Cats Trophies are 'Keepers'

ASU Mid-South Family Fun Event Set for Saturday

Top finishers in Arkansas State University Mid-South's inaugural Catfish Cooking Competition set for Saturday will take home custom-made, metal trophies thanks to the college's welding students and instructional staff.

Welding Technology Faculty Lead Ed Cook has been working with Technical Center high school students to create the eye-catching awards.

"We put a lot of work into them," he said. "We spent a whole day just making the 'rocks' that the catfish are sitting on. The students really enjoy projects like this because it gives them something to do other than just welding two pieces of steel together. This is a finished product, and they can see how it all works together."

The process began with fabricating the base to look like a rock.

"I cut out circles from sheet metal and then hollowed out a piece of 2x12 wood in a bowl shape," Cook explained. "I had the students heat up the metal with a rosebud torch and let them beat it into a mound shape using the wood form and a ball peen hammer."

The catfish, complete with a chef's hat and iron skillet, came next.

"We drew the catfish on the computer and sent it to our CNC plasma cam for the cutout. Then we cleaned it up and welded it to the rock."

To complete the effect, students made a 'log fire' below the skillet and added 'whiskers' on the catfish.

"For the logs, students took half-inch bolts, used a 6010 welding rod and ran beads down the bolt to make it look like bark," Cook explained. "Then we cut them up and tack-welded them to the base. After that, we tacked some welding wire on for the whiskers."

Cook said the finishing touches included sand blasting, heating, and waxing to ensure the trophies are a uniform color and rust proof. A brass plate designating the overall event, category, and place completes the effect.

"The trophies look really good; the students did a great job," Cook said.

He said he learned about fun and educational projects from a co-worker at Memphis Light, Gas and Water.

"I had an employee who was really big into ornamental iron work. I'd pick his brain every time I had a chance because I didn't know a lot about it. The idea for making the logs and putting the floor wax on trophies all came from him."

The cooking event includes competition in Best Fried Catfish, Best Anything Catfish, People's Choice, Catfish Tacos, Hushpuppies, Catfish Appetizer, and Anything Fried. In the People's Choice part of the contest, the public will be able taste a sample from each team for a $3 participation fee and will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite.

In addition to the "Cookin' Cats" contest, Saturday's events will include the Fourth Annual Greyhound 5K run/walk, Pup Dash, WIFFLE® Ball Classic, Kids' Zone inflatables, live music by local bands, arts and crafts, Cornhole skills challenge, food/concessions, and KWEM Radio station music.

All of the fun and games will be held on ASU Mid-South's North Campus at 2000 West Broadway in West Memphis.

Money generated from Saturday's events will go toward athletic scholarships for ASU Mid-South Greyhound basketball players. Since the inception of the 5K in 2012, the college has raised more than $38,000 to give area athletes an opportunity to compete against teams from Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Southland Park Gaming and Racing returns as the presenting sponsor of the 5K for the fourth year, and Flash Market is a platinum-level sponsor. Gold sponsors include Crittenden County Chiropractic Clinic, Evolve Bank & Trust, Forrest City Medical Center, LSI Staffing, Steele-Guiltner Tire Pros, and Tier 1 Group.

CenterPoint Energy Arkansas is the presenting sponsor of the Catfish Cooking Competition.

Start 2 Finish, one of the premier health-oriented event management companies in the region, will coordinate the Greyhound 5K. Registration fee for the 5K is $25 through Oct. 2, and $30 on race day. Registration is available at http://greyhound5k.racesonline.com/register.

The top three overall male and female runners will take home cash awards ($250 for first, $100 for second, and $50 for third), and all participants will receive custom-designed T-shirts. Runners and walkers who complete the course will receive finisher medals.

Youngsters of all ages will compete in this just-for-fun 400-meter Pup Dash. All paid participants will receive a T-shirt and an award. The race fee is $10.

Additional event sponsors include APAC, Arkansas Distributing, Barton PowerSports, Barton's of West Memphis, Brian's Heating & Air, Crittenden Publishing/Evening Times, DanMar Propane, Fenter Physical Therapy, Fidelity National Bank, First Community Bank of Eastern Arkansas, Ritter Disposables, Steve's Auto Body, The Landers Firm PLC, The Works Health & Fitness, West Memphis Fence Company, and Willowbend at Marion.

For more information about the "Runnin' Dogs & Cookin' Cats" event, contact Elizabeth Williams, ASU Mid-South Director of Development, at (870) 733-6764 or ecwilliams@midsouthcc.edu.