WALKER, Minn. - The 39th Annual international Eelpout Festival is descending on Walker, Minnesota this weekend.

The festival offers a "mid-winter respite" for Midwesterners braving the long cold season. Approximately 12,000 participants and visitors crowd into the small town of Walker for the fun every year.

Opening Ceremonies started at 6 p.m. Thursday. Upcoming events include:

  • Pout Curling (Saturday 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Chase on the Lake Tent: Patrons can throw “The Eelpout Rock” and try “sweeping” to victory. Walker’s local curling club facilitates the “stone-pout” throws and button landings.
  • 5th Annual Eelpout Beer Pong Championship (Saturday 3 p.m.): A Festival favorite! $40 gets your 2-person team into this bracket-style/single elimination contest. Prizes include cash, Eelpout Trophy and merch. For more information and to register, go to: http://www.eelpoutbeerpong.com/.
  • Eelpout Rugby (Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.): Bemidji State Rugby Teams will take to the ice to capture the 2017 Eelpout Rugby crown. Join them on the ice in front of The Chase.
  • Polar Pout Plunge (Saturday 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Registration at noon): Thanks to a chainsaw crew that cuts through 18” of ice to prepare a “soft landing," countless costumed revelers are cheered on by a massive crowd as they plunge into the frozen depths of Leech Lake. Money raised benefits the Walker Area Community Center.
  • Dog Sled Rides (Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) – Experience a K-9 led tour of the grounds.
  • Helicopter Rides (Saturday Noon-5 p.m.) - Located by City Park
  • Eelpout Weigh In: This unique “cultural submersion” operates daily, capped with an awards ceremony on Sunday (11am) in front of The Chase and includes thousands of dollars in prizes for the most pout pounds.
  • 4th Annual Kids Perch Jerk (Saturday noon-1 p.m.): Savings bonds will be awarded to three biggest perch caught. Holes will be drilled for the kids. Parents, just bring poles and bait.

More information on the festival is available online.