Eelpout Festival 2020 canceled

Organizers for the International Eelpout Festival, held annually on Leech Lake for the past 40 years, announced today that the festival will not be held this hardwater season.

According to a release from the International Eelpout Festival, they and Cass County have come to an impasse on lake enforcement.

“Over the years, attendance has multiplied substantially,” the release said.  “Each year with more attendees, equals – more traffic, more trash and more safety concerns.”

The organizers say they are “the only permit holder required to supply services and clean up,” but are not allowed “to control the lake.”

The release also says the costs, which are reportedly tens of thousands of dollars, to provide porta-potties, ice-road maintenance and trash pickup, are also making the festival unfeasible.

The Eelpout Festival was almost held in Bemidji in 2018, but Beltrami County officials were concerned about the impacts of the festival on Lake Bemidji.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.

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