Changes will be made to this year’s Eelpout festival, Cass County Administrator Josh Stevenson reported at the Dec. 17 board meeting.

The county’s Eelpout Committee, comprised of representatives from the city of Walker, Cass County and Chase on the Lake, met to discuss the 2020 gathering that brings thousands of people to Walker every winter.  

A street closure and city park permit has been approved by Walker City Council so the festival can move off the lake.

The festival, which is set for Feb. 20-23, will not include a fishing contest, due to the recent change in classification of the eelpout to a game fish by the Department of Natural Resources.

Plans will be implemented to re-brand the event because of the change in classification of the eelpout from a rough fish to a game-fish, and the safety of festival attendees due to unpredictable weather.

Festival organizers noted that the event is no longer working the way it has been run in the past. The festival cannot justify the cost of conducting activities on the water, prompting the festival to move all commercial and vendor activities to land.

The city, county and festival management agreed that vendors applying for a water surface permit should be required to have a trash, sanitation and parking plan for the lake.

Festival organizers plan to work with all vendors to cover the cost of trash, sanitation and parking.

The festival will provide a press release early in January that will detail upcoming plans after further meetings regarding the 2020 festival.

No recommendations were made at this time to the city council or county board by the Eelpout Committee.

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