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Eelpout Festival leaves major mess on Leech Lake

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Cass County officials and organizers of the annual Eelpout Festival in northern Minnesota must come up with a clean-plan for next year's event or risk not receiving a permit for the mass gathering.

The Brainerd Dispatch reports leftover garbage and human waste from the crowd of mostly intoxicated people gets worse and worse every year.

"You can’t tell a drunk what to do,” Commissioner Jim Dowson, a former sheriff, tells the newspaper. Cass County deputies jailed 45 people during this year’s Eelpout Festival for various offenses.

Leech Lake is described as "the mother lake" of the watershed that many lake associations make a major effort to keep clean. But between event organizers, the county and the sheriff's office, no one seems to be in charge of cleaning up after the party.

If no clean-up plan is in place, Sheriff Tom Burch, who issues a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources permit for the festival, may have grounds to deny permit applications for future Eelpout Festivals.

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