Eelpout Festival canceled over rising costs, garbage

Organizers say they couldn't agree on affordable solution with county over cleanup, maintenance

The iconic Eelpout Festival, which draws thousands of anglers to Walker, Minn., each February, has been canceled this year.

the 2013 Eelpout Festival.
An aerial view of the 2013 Eelpout Festival in Walker, Minn.

The problem, according to festival planners, is all the garbage. As the festival has grown, so too, has the amount of trash left behind on the ice.

In a cancellation announcement on the festival’s website, planners said they couldn’t agree on a solution with Cass County — not one they could afford, anyway.

"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," organizers wrote on the website. "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."

The event has been plagued by complications in recent years. It was nearly moved out of Walker at one point. And last year, the ice conditions were so terrible, dozens of fish houses sank into the slush and froze in place for weeks.

There’s no word yet on whether the festival will move forward next year.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!