The numbers say it all: 10,000 people. That’s how many cat-video lovers attended the Walker Art Center’s first Internet Cat Video Film Festival Thursday night. (And they weren’t all cat ladies!)

That attendance figure rivals Rock the Garden, typically the Walker’s biggest bash of the year.

The cat extravaganza had all the hallmarks of a real film festival. There were celebrities in the audience, including Lil Bub and the “Kittens Inspired by Kittens” girl. International media from Canada and Japan covered the event. The New York Times even flew out its own reporter.

Cat viewers began staking out spots on the Walker’s grassy hill around 5 p.m., three hours before the scheduled start time. By 8:30 p.m., the crowd covered the entire lawn and spilled onto Vineland, the street in front of the museum.

The Cat Video Fest was a part of the Walker’s Open Field program, which features community-driven events throughout the summer. Last week, the fest’s curator, Katie Hill, said the fest was an experiment – “The whole point of the festival is to see if this community exists in real life,” she said.

All questions were answered Thursday night.

The festival was broken up by CAT-egories (get it?), including comedy, drama and foreign. The People’s Choice Award winner went to “Henri 2, Paw de Deux,” an introspective short film starring a cat coming to terms with his meager existence. The director, William Brandon, was awarded the Golden Kitty.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Missed the fest? Watch all the videos here.

The Walker shot video of the evening, which can be viewed here.

(Above photo provided by the Walker)

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