Hodag 2017 in the books

David Archambeau/The Daily Mining Gazette Chad Borgen and Marc Geborkoff of Outlaw’d Band play to the crowd on the Hodag main stage during the Wisconsin State Country Band Contest last Friday afternoon in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Dragging into work on Tuesday after a week at Hodag was quite the effort. Many hours spent in the sun and fresh air listening to music till the early hours of the morning.

It started on Wednesday when we sat in chair line. While in chair line waiting for the colors to be picked, there was a storm watch put into play, so Hodag bumped up the times for chair line and our color got picked first. We got all the way to within about 15-20 rows back from the stage, great seats. We got our groups seats set and headed back to wait out the storm that missed us, thank God.

Thursday we headed in for the first shows and caught The Leroy Van Dyke Country Gold Tour, listening to the older singers that sang songs from my childhood days, and Frankie Ballard with new and upcoming favorites.

On Friday, Outlaw’d, our hometown band that won a chance to compete in the Wisconsin State Band competition, played for the title, coming up a little short. It was a blast to watch the band members before, during and after. The band got hyped up and checked its gear waiting for its chance on stage as the anticipation built and the time came they exploded into a great sounding band and played a great set.

There were Outlaw’d shirts all over the crowd in front of the stage cheering and yelling in support of the great sound and energy they performed with.

When the competition was over, the band got ready for a Friday night in the PAV that would prove to be another energetic performance.

While the bands like Billy Curington played, there shows for us to enjoy between shows. Outlaw’d raised the roof on the PAV every set and after the big stage was empty for the night the PAV was packed till closing.

Saturday was another great day. We played games as the campers had breakfast and watched shows till dark, came back to a fire and talked about the day and how much fun everything was and which band we liked .

The atmosphere is so fun and relaxing that you just get caught up in all the stuff you can do. Our Yoopsconsin group makes a huge breakfast over the fire in a huge skillet from Surplus Outlet that was bought for the group quite a few years ago.

The breakfast takes a few hours to make and is made up of bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and cheese. We slowly cook it over an open fire and dish it out when it is done. Of course we do have pickled eggs for breakfast, too.

Next thing you know it is Sunday, and the final performers are going on. The one name and show you wait to see is Neal McCoy. He is a great entertainer been doing the Hodag I think for 23 years. He even brings his family to the Hodag. His performance is about family and military-driven. When his show is done, and he ends with his song “I’m Your Biggest Fan,” it can pull a few tears out when you look at the jumbo screen and see all the soldiers he visits on his tours overseas. Hats off to him.

This year was the 40th Hodag, so the they wanted to do something for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. They held a raffle with the Rhinelander AMVETS Post 724 and NCO Club that raised $70,000 — enough money to send a whole plane.