Knoxville’s annual Ferrets in the City celebration will kick off next week with a wide girth of activities planned. The festival will last the entire week, and promoters hope there will be something for everyone.
As part of the celebration, regional artists and taxidermists have contributed ferret likenesses which will be on display in and around town. Knoxville taxidermist Earl Clay has donated four very realistic ferret likenesses, including Brown Ferret, Striped Ferret, and Flat Ferret. “Ferrets are such great pets. Upon the loss of a beloved ferret, many familes come to me for guidance. I have contributed these four ferrets to represent some of my best work over the years,” said Clay.
There will be a total of 60 ferrets on display for the week, many will be around far longer. A favorite of the festival’s organizer, Mary Washburn, is the Velcro Ferret. “To me, it just symbolizes what a ferret is all about,” said Washburn. “This festival will bring together ferret lovers from all around Knoxville, and will unite the community, if only for the week.”
The festival began in 1953 when Knoxville native Bud Jackson lost a pet ferret to his neighbor’s Buick. He threw a farewell party, inviting the Knoxville Ferret Society, and that first party grew to the festival we have today. Bud passed away over 10 years ago, but his festival lives on. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a ferret is a weasellike, usually albino mammal (Mustela putorius furo) related to the polecat and often trained to hunt rats or rabbits.
Other activities planned over the week include a daily ferret bus tour, rabbit hunt, face-painting, and a bouncy-castle. The bus will tour all the ferret likenesses on display around town, as well as the Ferret Farm in Loudon, where thousands of new ferrets are made each year and shipped around the world.