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Planning for the return of Hodag Country Festival

May 19, 2011
By DAVID ARCHAMBEAU - For the Gazette ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

RHINELANDER, Wis. - Campfire smoke, country music and a lot of people in an old elk field with campers as far as the eye can see, can only mean one thing: Hodag babeee.

Yes, it is time again to get your tickets, and start planning for a great Hodag vacation.

Time to start contacting friends, family and whoever else you want to bring, get them in the mood. Oh yeah, don't forget this year that you were going to come up with a great costume to wear, one that will bring tears of laughter to the eyes of everyone that sees you dressed that way. I mean, how hard is it to get in the mood for a week of country music and great friends?

Article Photos

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette
Country singer Craig Morgan performs at last year’s Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, Wis.

This year's lineup is a great mix of old and new, starting Thursday with Randy Travis, Randy Houser and Marty's Party. Friday, they keep you going with Rodney Atkins, Kellie Pickler, Jason Michael Carroll. Saturday; Little Big Town, Neal McCoy, Ronnie Milsap, Josh Thompson and Ashton Shepherd. The week ends with Sunday's all-star lineup of Montgomery Gentry, Travis Tritt, Uncle Kracker, Laura Bell Bundy and Josh Kelley. To me, that sounds like a great weekend of entertainment.

The Hodag Country Festival has been proud to host some of the best country music artists since its inception in 1978.

The music is not the only thing that keeps us going to Hodag. Some of the fun is walking around visiting old friends and making new ones - seeing people that have not been there for a few years.

When you go walking around the grounds, you have the opportunity to sample foods, drinks and play some games. Heck, once in a while you may have a chance to cool off on a slip 'n slide. Sometimes, it's nice to sit back and get caught up on the last year of events with those you see once a year at Hodag.

Sitting around the fire at night after all the shows are over, trying to be the last to bed makes for some very funny times as you watch the people slowly retire to their tents and trailers. Some people walk around all night long visiting until wee hours in the morning.

Others leave the shows and head to the Pavilion for more live music by the area's best local bands, who are also in a contest for the best band. The place is usually packed toe to toe with dancing and music till around 2 a.m. Once that closes, they head back to trailers and tents to wind down.

Morning time brings shower lines and breakfast, and maybe even a run to town for supplies. Breakfast at our site is a couple hours cooking over an open fire. With an oversized skillet, we feed about 20 to 24 people at breakfast.

After breakfast ,it is time to enjoy the sun and maybe a little nap before the shows start up again.

Tickets are on sale now but prices go up after May 31.

The Hodag Country Festival Campgrounds open at 6 a.m. July 2. All campers must have a nine-day ticket in their possession to be admitted to the campgrounds.

Shuttle buses are available for transportation to and from the overflow starting July 7.



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