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Organizers cancel International Eelpout Festival in Walker

WALKER, Minn. (AP) — Organizers have canceled the International Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake in Walker, saying the economics and other restrictions on the celebration of Minnesota’s ugliest fish no longer work.

The organizers said Thursday they could not reach an agreement on a number of terms with the Cass County officials. So they canceled what would have been the 41st annual event, which had been planned for Feb. 20-23.

“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. “Unfortunately, the costs of all these items are rising and (given) 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.”

Past festivals have brought more than 12,000 people to the northern Minnesota town for four days of outdoor winter activities.

Cass County Administrator Josh Stevenson said he wasn’t aware of the “impasse” cited by organizers. He wondered whether they might have been glossing over other issues, such as the unpredictability of the weather and the state’s plans to impose limits on how many eelpout anglers can catch.