WALKER, Minnesota — More than 12,000 participants and visitors descend on Walker, Minnesota (pop. 1,069) for four days every February for The Annual International Eelpout Festival.
The festival, always a spectacle, is known for providing a mid-winter respite for the many hearty Midwesterners looking for an outlet during a long Minnesota winter. The revelry and gamesmanship that ensues has drawn the curiosity of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and countless media outlets over the years. 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!
All activities for the 40th Annual International Eelpout Festival are in one convenient location, in front of The Chase on the Lake. In the tent or on the ice you’ll find one of a kind “Chase the Pout” events including:
Opening Ceremonies (Thursday starting at 6 p.m.): Live music with Corey Medina in The 502 and Pre-Pout Kick-Off Party in the Chase Big Top Tent.
7th Annual Eelpout Beer Pong (Qualifiers – Friday, Championship – Saturday; 3 p.m.-7 p.m. both days): A Festival favorite! $40 gets your two-person team into this bracket-style/single elimination contest happening inside the Chase Big Top Tent. Prizes include cash, Eelpout Trophy and merch. For more information and to register, go to: www.eelpoutbeerpong.com
Pout Curling (Saturday 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.): Patrons can throw “The Eelpout Rock” and try “sweeping” to victory. Walker’s local curling club facilitates the “stone-pout” throws and button landings. Pout Curling is located behind the Chase Big Top Tent.
Chainsaw Carving (Saturday starting at 10 a.m.)
Dog Sled Rides (Saturday 10 a.m.-Dark): Experience a K-9 led tour of the grounds … and so "mush" more starting in front of the Walker Marina.
Helicopter Rides (Saturday): Located by City Park
Eelpout Weigh In: This unique “cultural submersion” operates daily, capped with an awards ceremony on (Sunday 9 a.m.-10 a.m.) in front of The Chase Big Top Tent and includes thousands of dollars in prizes for the most pout pounds.
6th 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.
Polar Pout Kart Races (Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.): Lake next to Chase Big Top Tent with trophies and cash prizes.
Human Whack-A-Mole (Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.): Chase Big Top Tent.
Annual must-see and must-try Eelpout traditions:
Kissing the Pout on the lips is a long-held Minnesota tradition. Not for the faint of heart, but legend says it will provide good luck for the entire year!
Sip an ice-cold drink at the 50,000-pound Jameson Irish Whiskey ice bar built (literally) on the lake.
Enjoy the Eelpout Fish Fry including real eelpout nuggets.
Arguably the biggest attraction of the Festival is the ever-growing city of lake encampments (some built from scratch). Tour and immerse yourself in a culture simply too unique to explain to those who “haven’t been” … For example, ever ridden an Ice-Couch Land Cruiser!?
To learn more about the 40th Annual International Eelpout Festival, please visit: https://www.eelpoutfestival.com/