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Originally published April 7, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Page modified April 13, 2011 at 8:59 AM

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CatchCon brings 'Deadliest Catch' cast to Seattle

The third annual CatchCon fan festival happens Saturday, April 9, at the Bell Harbor Conference Center, in Seattle. The festival brings together fans and stars of the popular Discovery Channel show, "Deadliest Catch," about working fishermen.

Festival preview

CatchCon

Noon Saturday, Bell Harbor International Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle; sold out (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/deadliest-catch/).

Video | Deadliest Catch season 7 interview

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A few months ago, Capt. Keith Colburn could be found at the helm of a 155-foot crab boat, battling against the frigid and raging Bering Sea, doing what he does best — catching crab. Now he's putting at celebrity golf tournaments and fighting off fans after being part of Discovery Channel's hit reality show "Deadliest Catch" for the past seven seasons.

Colburn will be in Seattle with the other captains from the show Saturday for the third annual CatchCon fan festival, a celebration of all things "Deadliest Catch" at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. He still argues he's just an ordinary fisherman, but a loyal fan following has proved that people want to get as close as they can to a lifestyle some consider exotic.

Joshua Weinberg, vice president of communications for Discovery Channel, came up with the idea for the convention a few years ago as a means to connect fans to the real people behind the show. Many of the captains and crew dock in Seattle during the offseason.

"Seattle really is the second home to 'Deadliest Catch,' " Weinberg said.

Tickets are free, but space is limited to keep the event as intimate as possible — less like a conference and more like an interactive chat.

CatchCon gives fans the chance to tour boats from the show, including Capt. Sig Hansen's Northwestern and Colburn's boat Wizard.

Colburn said CatchCon is also one of the only times the entire cast of the show is able to get together in one place and that the experience is also an opportunity to talk with his peers.

"The first year we had CatchCon there were 500 spots that sold out in less than an hour," Weinberg said. "Next year it was 1,000 and they were gone in two hours."

The network doubled the number of tickets again this year, and once again they were gone in 90 minutes. Fans unable to get in can watch the event live over the Internet.

Colburn said it "never ceases to amaze" him that people are so interested in the show.

"I always tell people that we're just fishermen," he said. "It's a little humbling and a little bizarre that people would fly halfway around the world to see us ... the coolest thing is seeing everyone so excited."

Seven seasons later, it's hard to agree with Colburn's modesty. He and his companions are fishermen, but they're fishermen fighting hand-to-hand against the force of nature.

But Colburn said the action and intensity of the show are different from what goes on in real life.

"It's not as cool as it looks," he said.

The new season of "Deadliest Catch" begins on Discovery Channel Tuesday.

Nick Visser: 206-464-3226 or nvisser@seattletimes.com

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