In August 2012, the Walker Art Center in St. Paul, MN planned a small experiment as part of its outdoor summer programming. What if there was an evening program dedicated to the Internet phenomenon of cat videos? Would anyone come to watch videos what they could easily view with a few clicks at home or work? How would this solo hobby translate to a public setting?

That’s exactly what it did when it create the first ever Internet Cat Video Festival. The event is very much like an awards show with different categories for thousands of cat videos. Some videos are from internet stars and others are user submitted. This year’s event will feature Internet sensation Lil Bub as well as an exhibition of cat themed art.

When the festival originally began in 2012, word quickly spread internationally via social media and the press, including coverage as varied as the New York Times, the BBC, Japanese television, Australian talk shows, Brazilian newspapers, CNN, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Cat Fancy, Slate, Time, CHEEZburger, and many more. The event has even outgrown its original facility and has moved to CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints baseball team, in downtown St. Paul.

Last year’s winner of the Golden Kitty award, the festival’s “people choice” equivalent, was Rob Moore and his “8 Signs of Addiction” that starred his cat Shorty.

“When I brought Shorty home from a shelter nearly four years ago I knew she was a star. The fact that so many others now think so is just awesome,” Moore said. “I hope that she brings as much joy to her viewers as she brings to me each day.”

The event has drummed up so much interest that it even goes on tour to different humane societies and rescue groups across the country. One of these is the Humane Society of Western Montana and Roxy Theatre where the event will be combined with cat adoptions.

“They’re bringing cats into the lobby – kittens and older cats – and then they do adoptions right out of the building. It’s a pretty fun little event,” Roxy employee Aaron Roos told The Missoulian. “Last year went really well. I was very surprised.”

This year festival is August 12 in St. Paul, MN.