FORT SCOTT - Family pulls together for a good cause, and “Catfish King” Marion Kincaid, a star on the National Geographic television show “Mudcats,” visited Fort Scott on Saturday to help raise funds for Relay for Life.
Kincaid is a professional “noodler” or sportsman who fishes for catfish by hand.
Members of the Fort Scott Community College Relay for Life team are Kincaid’s distant relatives and came up with the idea of inviting him to Fort Scott for a fundraising event.
“We’re always looking for fundraisers for Relay,” said Pam Belknap, a member of the FSCC relay team.
She said Sher Rupprecht made the contact.
“She called and he says, ‘What time, what place?’” Belknap said.
Kincaid said he was glad to help.
“My father died of cancer,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day to come out and make the kids smile.”
Kincaid also brought his dog, Jesse, and his friend since kindergarten and teammate, Mark “Wild Man” Schull.
Kincaid said he has been noodling for 37 years and began doing so to impress a girlfriend’s father.
He said his girlfriend was camping upriver and her father, Don Blackburn, didn’t like it when he set up camp nearby.
Blackburn decided to see what Kincaid was made of and took him noodling, where he promptly got his hand chewed on by a catfish. But the encounter was life-changing.
“I found out I could catch catfish with my hands, so I left his daughter alone the rest of the weekend,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid’s newfound passion lasted and eventually landed him a starring role on “Mudcats.”
Belknap said in addition to Kincaid making his appearance, many family members also helped out by donating catfish to be fried and sold at the event and by running a number of activity stations for those who attended.
Page 2 of 2 - These included fishing by hand for minnows, and Belknap said the rules were similar to fishing.
“If you catch them, you keep them,” she said.
Lance Elliott, an 11-year-old from the Paola area, said he caught seven fish.
“(I’m going to) put them in my pond and let them grow,” Elliott said.
Elliott said he is a fan of the show and had spent his day doing all the activities available except for the face painting.
On the other hand, Levi Griffith, age 6, of Fort Scott, proudly displayed the fish splashed across his face.
“He likes catfish,” said Heather Griffith, Levi’s mother. “His daddy fishes.”
Griffith said Levi had been fishing since an early age and Levi said he had caught one or two the classic way, but thought noodling might be fun to try.
It wasn’t just children who got a kick out of the activities that day.
Marvin Cox, of Pleasanton, said he loves noodling and other sportsman activities and is a huge fan of the show.
“I’ve got them recorded every week,” Cox said, adding that he was excited to meet Kincaid and Schull.
“I heard it on the radio and said, ‘Yep, I’m there,'” he said. “I wanted to go to Oklahoma to meet them, but this is just as close. I love it.”
Other activities included a roach race, the opportunity to toss artificial worms into the mouth of a painted catfish, and a rubber band shoot toward stacks of cans with rival noodlers Don “Katt Daddy” Brewer and Scooter Bivens
Bourbon County’s Relay for Life event will take place at the FSCC track on June 13 and 14.