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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Sign outside Paris, TN, touting town as "Home of the World's Biggest Fish Fry"
Sign touting Paris, Tennessee, as the "Home of the World's Biggest Fish Fry" Photo: Dieter C. Ullrich

World's Biggest Fish Fry

This annual festival in Paris, Tennessee, was originally called "Mule Day" when it began in 1938. Mule Day was sponsored by the local newspaper, the Paris Post Intelligencer, to encourage local farmers to come to town on the first Monday in April to trade their mules and farm animals, shop, and visit with their friends. With the advent and popularity of tractors on the family farm, the selling of mules declined significantly. The Henry County Chamber of Commerce acquired the "mule day" event, and replaced it with a Fish Fry in 1953. The event was not as successful as it might have been if the fish were caught locally, rather than shipped in from other parts of the country. However, the annual Fish Fry continued and grew.

In 1961, the Paris-Henry County Jaycees took over the event and extended its name to "World's Biggest Fish Fry." For the event, Jaycees cooked more than 1,600 pounds of catfish, and sponsored several events. In 1998, the week-long festival held five beauty pageants, a street dance, a carnival, a rodeo, an arts and crafts show, an auto show, two parades, and cooked more than 13,000 pounds of catfish! More than 100,000 people attended.

Documentation includes a 1999 souvenir program booklet, newspaper clippings, and photographs.

Originally submitted by: John S. Tanner, Representative (8th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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