The Winter Games weren’t the only big event to come to a close in South Korea on Feb. 25. That day also marked the end of one of the nation’s biggest and most popular annual winter events: The Gangwon Province’s Pyeongchang Trout Festival. While obviously smaller in scope and greatly overshadowed by the Winter Games, the yearly ice fishing event drew its fair share of visitors from around the country and the world – including some of those who came to see the games in the nearby complex.
The Pyeongchang Trout Festival also lasted a lot longer than the Games. While the international games took place over a two-week period, the Trout Festival went on for three months. It began three days before Christmas and kept on going strong right up until the final day. For those who came to Pyeongchang for the ice fishing, snow rafting and other winter games and sports, the closing ceremony was deeply moving and meaningful.
Jinbu-myeon’s Famous Trout
The Pyeongchang Trout Festival is held every year in the town of Jinbu-myeon, a place famous for trout farming. Fishermen and their families come to the frozen lake to compete in ice-fishing contests, or just to fish through holes drilled in the ice in hopes of hooking a big, fat fish. Those who book well in advance can enjoy fishing in the relative comfort of a canvas tent where they can sit in privacy and out of the wind to fish, picnic or just relax. There are also places on the lake where those who seek a real challenge can set aside their rod and reel and try to catch the trout with their bare hands. Those fortunate enough to hook (or grab) a trout can take them to one of the hundreds of lakeside grills where they can cook their catch. There are also many restaurants alongside the lake where fishermen can take their catch and let the professionals gut, scale and prepare their fresh catch.
A True Winter Carnival
Despite its name, the Pyeongchang Trout Festival is about more than just fish. It is a true winter carnival, with sleigh rides, sledding, snow tubing and snow rides in 4-wheel ATVs. There are many other events that go on throughout the three-month-long festival, including traditional games and sports and performances by local musical and dance troupes. The family-friendly event attracts thousands of visitors every year not only from Gangwon Province and the rest of South Korea but also from throughout Asia and around the world. While the Winter Games have come and gone, there will be no shortage of visitors flocking to Gangwon next winter when, once again, the Pyeongchang Trout Festival begins its annual three-month party on the ice.