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Boreal Community Media

Walker MN 2020 Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake Canceled

Jan 03, 2020 06:50AM ● By Editor

From WDIO-TV - January 3, 2020

For the last 40 years, the Eelpout has been the fish of choice in February for the annual Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake near Walker, Minnesota. Ice anglers from all over flocked to the lake in search of the strange-looking fish.

Organizers announced Thursday that the 2020 International Eelpout Festival has been canceled. According to the Eelpout Festival website and Facebook page, the organization said "It's with a heavy heart we announce the cancellation of the International Eelpout Festival for this season."  The group states that it could not reach an agreement on a number of terms with the Cass County officials. 

The main issues of concern were the numbers of tourists at the festival, the trash left behind, lake enforcement and the cost of the event.

Organizers posted this statement on their website:

Greetings from Festival Headquarters

It’s with a heavy heart we announce the cancelation of the International Eelpout Festival for this season. Over the years, attendance has multiplied substantially. Each year with more attendees, equals – more traffic, more trash and more safety concerns. After trying to work with the county for the past 5 months to develop a solution for this year’s event, we have come to an impasse on lake enforcement. Because we are the only permit holder required to supply services and clean up, and are not allowed to control the lake, the economics no longer work. We provided a concept/proposal to move all commercial activity off the ice and into Downtown Walker, and this too was not going to allow for acceptable permit process for both parties. In the past years we committed tens of thousands of dollars on lake clean up annually plus supplied services such as porta-potties, ice road maintenance and trash pick-up. Unfortunately, the costs of all these items are rising and the inability to enforce clean up and participation for all festival goers, attendees and vendors it is no longer feasible to operate the festival under the County requirements that change and increase every year. This year there will be no fishing contest or on ice commercial activity from the festival. We will NOT supply ice roads, porta potties or trash removal during what would historically be the Festival weekend. We have had a great ride and appreciate all of you loyal “POUTERS” over the years and thank you for your support.

God Bless-

To read the original article and see related stories, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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