NEW YORK — Screams of excitement came from the taxi as it pulled up to the Javits Center and three women filed out, each of them wearing cat ears and face paint mimicking the striped pattern of a tabby cat.
Klara Vogt, Anja Becker and Ursula Schulz had come all the way from Düsseldorf, Germany, for the party, but for them the trip was worth it.
“We originally planned to go to Das Büdenfest in 2020, ya, but the pandemic made it dangerous and inefficient to travel,” Schulz explained. “Now that die plage is ünter kontrolle and Deütschland airlines are running efficiently like clockwork again, we are able to come and celebrate Herr Büddenschrieber!”
Organizers are expecting more than 15,000 attendees for BuddyFest IV, which is jam-packed with all things Buddy for the entire weekend.
Earth, Wind and Fire will kick off the festivities on Friday night during the welcome ceremony and dance party, where guests can snack on turkey sliders and turkey-seasoned popcorn as they watch an artist chisel a 20-foot-tall ice sculpture of the beloved feline.
An area exclusively for feline guests featured a boxing ring containing 62 different boxes of various materials to sit in, as well as VIP boxes with can and bottle service. A nearby lounge offered long tables covered with objects to paw-smack onto the ground, surrounding a sizable fountain bubbling with beef and turkey fondue.
“Boxes, good eats!” raved Jasper, 3, in between rips from a catnip hookah. The Scottish fold lounged comfortably in a corrugated cardboard box with two of his catatonic friends who sat with their eyes half closed, surrounded by a permanent haze of the minty plant.
(Above: The ice sculpture at BuddyFest IV this year, left, and the sculpture from BuddyFest III in 2022.)
The main convention floor was opened Saturday morning with Buddy-themed exhibits, Buddinese merchandise and Buddificent performances from artists and musicians paying tribute to the little guy.
A Marvel comics booth will offer previews of the upcoming comic series Bud: The Silver Knight, while HBO will host a panel discussion with the stars of its newest drama, House of the Tiger, starring Buddy.
Jake Lipton, son of the late Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton, will lead an afternoon symposium titled “Buddnipotence: Celebrating Buddy’s Benevolent Effect On Geopolitical Relations, Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the Art of Napping.”
(Above: Cover art from Marvel’s Bud: The Silver Knight, left, and a Hungarian-language comic aimed at a younger audience, right.)
Few fans were as excited as Frank Gambino, 28, a bodybuilder from New Jersey who attended as a costumed Buddy. While he described himself as a fan of Buddy’s movies, he said he was primarily interested in the buff feline’s Youtube workout series, “Snaxercize.”
“Buddy is the best, bro,” Gambino said. “I’ve got all his creatine supplements, his new line of protein shakes from GNC and that TigerFuel stuff he swears by. Buddy’s jacked, bro.”
On the first night of the festival a large crowd had gathered in front of the second stage where the poets laureate of four countries were slated to perform pieces “meant to convey Buddy’s magnificence in mere words.”
“Buddy’s simultaneous status as feline icon, movie star, sex symbol and cultural muse means he occupies a rarefied position in the American psyche,” said former New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani. “He’s equal parts cuddly cat and terrifying tiger, and I think that’s part of what makes him so beguiling.”
Tickets for BuddyFest IV have been sold out since Jan. 2022, but determined fans of the fantastic feline can still get ahold of them — for a pretty premium. Tickets were selling for as much as $1,700 on StubHub and eBay, but Bud superfans were unperturbed.
Among them was former US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly praised Buddy on social media.
“Received a big, beautiful letter from Buddy today,” Trump wrote on his social media site, BiglyFacts Social. “The Budster is tremendous cat, just terrific. The best cat you’re ever gonna see, believe me, folks. He’s tremendous.”
3 thoughts on “Fans Flock To NY For 4th Annual BuddyFest”
Now that Tux has heard about this meownificent festival, I am in the doghouse for not getting tickets!
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Bella clawed me to death, enquiring why I did not know about this and why we did not have first-class tickets to JFK. Please, please, please, Buddy, give me advance notice of BuddyFest 5!!! obviously this is the main feline event globally with other Europeans! stunning
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I am so so happy to have scored a ticket on eBay!! Just won’t be paying my mortgage this month (Take THAT Bank of America) How much more would a meet and greet with Buddy himself cost me?
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