MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are few traditions in Minnesota that show off our love of winter like the Eelpout Festival. That’s why Mark Rosen and Amelia Santaniello drove to Walker Thursday for this week’s edition of Goin’ To The (Frozen) Lake!
Breakfast At Walker’s American Legion
A rainy day up north did slow things down a bit at one of the biggest parties in the state. The Eelpout Festival in Walker hosts thousands of people on Leech Lake.
When you’re going to do non-stop partying like this, it’s good to fill up with a big breakfast. That’s provided by the Walker American Legion Riders right in town. $7.95 gets you a meal and a Bloody Mary. And there was quite a cast of characters stopping in all Friday morning. Mark and Amelia even saw one guy wearing an eelpout mask. They’ll do this again Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. if you want to get off the lake and get a hot meal. The money raised goes to veterans and veteran causes. Oh, and WCCO viewers voted this the best Legion in the state!
A steady stream of cars made it off Walker Bay Friday by the noon deadline. Sheriff’s deputies stationed themselves near any entrance to the lake. Worries about ice thickness led to a weekend ban for vehicles. That means cars are parked everywhere in town. It’s a little hassle for the fishermen, but good for businesses in town.
Eelpout Fest Beer Pong Tourney & Pout Boot
The Eelpout Festival is a non-stop party for three days. Whether you’re out in a fish house on the lake, or in the Chase On The Lake tent, there is a lot to do. There’s even a beer pong tournament! It started a few years ago with 20 teams, and they now have up to 60 teams!
Another fun thing for anyone to try is the Pout Boot. If you successfully kick a field goal, you win a prize. In the video above, Amelia and Mark gave it a shot!
The WCCO Shot Luge & Eelpout Fishing Contest
It was a pretty miserable Friday to be out on the ice, so people were filling Chase On The Lake’s tent. It has a huge ice bar carved by a great guy named John Franks. John also carved a WCCO shot luge a few days ago.
That’s right, it’s decorative and functional! John spends days up here getting everything ready for the event, first using a chainsaw and chisels, then ironing out the final details. It’s a really cool addition to the festival.
There is certainly a big focus on partying up here, but plenty of people actually fish. Amelia and Mark stopped by the official weigh-in station for the eelpout fishing contest. There are already some big ones on the board. They do team and individual contests. Last year’s team tonnage winner had 351.27 pounds! And the individual tonnage winner had 173.97 pounds! From what we’ve seen, the fish are bigger this year, so it’ll be an interesting contest.
Eelpout Festival Walkabout
A steady rain Friday morning made Leech Lake a mess, but the party continued. And for Eelpout Fest newbies like Amelia, it’s really something you have to see to believe. Check out the video above for more!