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It was “poutin’” time again so a-poutin’ Genie and I did go. We left Albert Lea (for the four-day event) early Thursday, February 18, 2016. The Eelpout Festival was Thursday-noon Sunday, on Leech Lake, Walker, Minnesota.

Can you imagine a town of just under 1,000 trying to find parking for 14,000 people? The weather was in the high forties Friday and Saturday, after about eight inches of snow the previous weekend. This was the 37th Annual Eelpout Festival and the second time vehicles were limited on the lake. Because of the snow, thinner-than-normal ice (about 24 inches compared to 48 inches) and warm temps with rain, the decision was made to restrict traffic on the lake beginning at noon on Friday. Traffic was limited to four-wheelers, snowmobiles and on foot. It took at least a half hour to find a car parking place within walking distance of the lake activities.

All the planned activities out on the ice were held. You had to walk through slush and water, keeping in mind that old saying, “The show must go on.”

The Friday and Saturday night dance with live entertainment was a success after sump pumps were used to pump off the water on the ice floor (the dance was held under a big tent out on the ice).

The Polar Plunge had about 400 plungers. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton impersonators were at the plunge but they refused to jump into Leech Lake. Both gave the excuse “it would wreck their hairdo” (between $40-50 thousand was raised for breast cancer).

The largest eelpout caught was 13½ lbs. Because of having to park off the lake, the Walker businesses did quite well. It was estimated that about $2 million was spent in Walker.

There was a traffic warning sign as you came into Walker stating, “Beware of heavy traffic.”

We stayed the four nights at the Palace Hotel (as we usually do) in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Once again the employees treated us with a “welcome back,” a handshake or a hug and “it’s good to see you.”

We visited Sandy Roscoe in Longville, MN. Sandy is a former resident of Albert Lea and an associate member of Central Freeborn Lutheran Church, rural Albert Lea. 

We attended the Sunday service at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cass Lake. Please say a prayer for Charlie and Grace (members of Trinity with health problems).

Short shorts:

Who is the most well-known man of the cloth in the Cass Lake area? Father George Ross, that’s who.

Who is the “key” man at the Palace Hotel? Frank, the maker of room keys, that’s who.

Who is the Hy-Vee employee that is in the TV ad for Polar Plunging? Kellon Kassa of Albert Lea, that’s who.

Who is the ruffled grouse that has adopted the mailboxes in Puposky, Minnesota? Fred, that’s who.


Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in Volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. Bob says if you enjoy his column, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of wisdom: There is always room for God.

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