Say it isn't so! Walker Art Center calls time on the Internet Cat Video Festival


As you sitting down for this, cat fans? The Walker Arts Center is ending its wildly popular Internet Cat Video Festival.

The museum made the announcement on its Facebook page, saying it will be donating all of its planning materials to the Minnesota Historical Society in the hope others can create "copy-cat" events of their own.

The announcement was accompanied by a video of "Henri, le Chat Noir," the first winner of the festival's Golden Kitty Award.

It brings an end to a remarkable "tail" that CityPages reports started as a "casual free screening" of cat videos on the Walker Art Center lawn in 2012 – which left organizers dumbfounded when more than 10,000 people turned up.

Such was the huge popularity of the event, the Walker held it at the State Fairground in 2013 and then a packed-out CHS Field in St. Paul last year.

MPR notes the festival started as an experiment to see if Internet communities could be converted into physical communities through live events, and the experiment has (obviously) been declared a success.

Its influence was huge, inspiring similar events in Chicago and Portland, and prompting a tour that took it to cities across the U.S. and in Europe.

The Star Tribune reports the Walker now wants to focus on other projects, including the expansion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and hopes someone will keep the festival going.

"We think that cat videos will live on without us, and we’re really excited for other people to take up the mantle and program their own festivals," Emmet Byrne, the Walker’s design director, told the newspaper.

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