The 41st International Eelpout Festival, scheduled for Feb. 20-22, has officially been cancelled.

The decision was made by event organizers after discussions with Cass County, City of Walker, Cass County Sheriff’s Office and others failed to produce agreement on issues such as provisions for sanitation, clean-up, ice road maintenance and safety for festival-goers and vendors.

The following statement was posted Jan. 2 on the eelpoutfestival.com website:

“It’s with a heavy heart we announce the cancellation of the International Eelpout Festival for this season. Over the years, attendance has multiplied substantially. Each year ... more attendees equals – more traffic, more trash and more safety concerns. After trying to work with the county for the past five months to develop a solution for this year’s event, we have come to an impasse on lake enforcement.

“Because we are the only permit holder required to supply services and clean up, and are not allowed to control the lake, the economics no longer work. We provided a concept/proposal to move all commercial activity off the ice and into downtown Walker, and this too was not going to allow for acceptable permit process for both parties.

“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. Unfortunately, the costs of all these items are rising, and 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.

“This year there will be no fishing contest or on ice commercial activity from the festival. We will NOT supply ice roads, porta potties or trash removal during what would historically be the Festival weekend. We have had a great ride and appreciate all of you loyal “POUTERS” over the years and thank you for your support. God bless.”

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