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Eelpout Festival celebrates 40th year: Festival set Feb. 21-24

Eelpout Festival goers hitch a ride on a couch pulled by an all-terrain vehicle during last year's annual Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake. Forum News Service file photo

WALKER— The annual International Eelpout Festival is scheduled Feb. 21-24 on Leech Lake in front of Chase on the Lake in Walker.

"The festival is known for providing a mid-winter respite for the many hearty Midwesterners looking for an outlet during a long Minnesota winter," organizers stated in a news release. "At the center of the Eelpout Festival is the long-held tradition of angling the world's only true gamefish and one of the ugliest bottom dwelling catches out there—the eelpout."

Entering into its 40th year, the eelpout festival attracts more than 10,000 participants and visitors to Walker. This year's festival officially begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 and concludes at noon Feb. 24. All participants must be registered and have in their possession an official International Eelpout Festival button, which may be purchased online at https://www.eelpoutfestival.com/buy-a-button/ at the registration tent in front of Chase on the Lake, or at participating Walker area businesses. Cost of a button is $18. Visit the official site at: www.eelpoutfestival.com.

Activities include:

• Opening ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 with live music with Corey Medina in The 502 and Pre-Pout Kick-Off Party in the Chase Big Top Tent.

• Annual Eelpout Beer Pong: Qualifiers on Feb. 22 and championship Feb. 23. Cost is $40 for a two-person team into this bracket-style/single elimination contest.

• Pout Curling: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23. Patrons can throw "The Eelpout Rock" and try "sweeping" to victory. Located behind the Chase Big Top Tent.

• Chain saw carving starts at 10 a.m. Feb. 23.

• Dog sled rides starts at 10 a.m. Feb. 23.

• Helicopter rides Feb. 23.

• Eelpout weigh in: This "cultural submersion" operates daily, capped with an awards ceremony at 9 a.m. Feb. 24.

• Annual Kids Perch Jerk noon-1 p.m. Feb. 23. Savings bonds will be awarded to three biggest perch caught. Holes will be drilled for the kids. Parents, just bring poles and bait.

• Polar Pout Kart Races 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23.

• Human Whack-A-Mole 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23.

Annual eelpout traditions include "Kissing the Pout" on the lips and sipping an ice-cold drink at the 50,000-pound Jameson Irish Whiskey ice bar built on the lake.

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