RHINELANDER - Big-name country bands travel to Rhinelander from far away for Hodag Country Fest.
But one local band doesn't have to travel far at all for their Hodag debut.
Take a little punk, some bluegrass, and a whole lot of country and you get the Ditchrunners.
"We like to call it 'Honkey-tonk Guttergrass.' But people say it's kind of punk-countryish, whatever it is. It's our own original thing. We're not trying to be like anybody else we're just doing what we do," says Douglas Bredlau, The Ditchrunners' lead singer.
The Stevens Point band came in first place at one of several Hodag Pick-Off competitions in Wisconsin.
Now they get to play on the main stage of Hodag Country Fest.
"It's a real trip because I know what a big deal it is. I know what a huge event it is in Rhinelander. And I'm going to have a bunch of friends that are going to be there that have been going to Hodag for years, and I'm just really excited to get the chance to play for the hometown crowd," adds Bob Weigandt, The Ditchrunners' mandolin player.
Weigandt grew up in Rhinelander.
Ditchrunner's founder Douglas "Buckshot" Bredlau grew up in Park Falls.
Their debut at Hodag Country Fest will also be a competition.
Bands that won regional Hodag Pick-Offs will compete for the title of Wisconsin State Country Band Champion.
"We are rooted in the tradition of country music and we're kind of trying to bring that back a little bit in the world of pop country I guess," says Bredlau.
When The Ditchrunners perform at Hodag Fest on Friday they'll also pre-release their new full-length album.
"Squirrel Lake up by Minocqua, we spent three days out on an island just recording all day, every day for three straight days," says Alex Dalnodar, The Ditchrunners' guitarist.
It's the band's first album with a record label.
You'll be able to buy it July 16th, the same day they perform at the Rhinelander Ice Arena with Buckcherry.
"It's actually a great family and I love these guys more than anybody. It's been a real good time and it's going to get a lot better. I know that," Bredlau says.
WAUSAU - Every year, firefighters around the country ask their communities to fill up boots with money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Wausau Fire Department kicked off its "Fill the Boot" campaign Tuesday morning.
The fire department will be at local events throughout the summer to collect donations.
The fundraiser helps with research and treatment for neuromuscular diseases for kids and adults.
"It's kind of a rewarding part of the job. Most of what we do is off camera, you don't really get to see all aspects of the fire department. It is a great chance for us to get out there and see all the programs we are involved in to help,"says firefighter Matt Tormohlen.
FOREST COUNTY - Bringing your pet along to watch fireworks might seem like a fun way to spend the Fourth of July, but you could be doing more harm than good.
July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for most animal shelters.
That's because fearful pets try to escape the bangs and flashes from fireworks and end up lost.
Forest County Humane Society president Jay Schaefer says don't let yourself add to your pet's stress.
Play it down, and make the fireworks a good thing with positive talk and treats.
"They're reading cues from us constantly. So be careful of your body language and the cues you're giving them. If you act like fireworks are a big scary thing they're gonna be like, 'oh my god fireworks are scary,'" says Schaefer.
Exercise can be another way to calm your pet before the big light show.
Burning off the energy earlier in the day may help your pet go to sleep early.
"Take them for a jog on the Fourth of July. I know it's hectic, but do something so they're not all amped up at night when the fireworks go off," says Schaefer.
Like many humans, pets like the smell of lavender.
You can try diffusing the scent around the house to put your pet at ease.
Make sure you have a well-fitting collar and identification tag on your pet.
If flashes are too bright, you might want to close the curtains.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS - More than three months passed since family and friends have seen a Plover woman.
Krista Sypher, 44, has been missing since March 13.
Since then Plover police have been investigating.
Wednesday that investigation led them to a landfill in Wisconsin Rapids
Plover Police Chief Dan Ault said they've been searching the Cranberry Creek Landfill since Monday. He wouldn't say what they have or have not found. He also couldn't say how or why the investigation led them to this landfill.
Chief Ault said it's possible they might be back to continue the search on Thursday.
EAGLE RIVER - When your entire theater production fits in the back of your SUV, you need to know how to do -- and be -- just about everything.
"You kind of have to be the jack of all trades," actor Chris Cummings said.
Cummings is a stagehand, a set designer, and this summer a bug. He and fellow actor Jennifer Schreiner travel the Midwest out of their Chicago-area homes for the Traveling Lantern Theatre Company, which is based in Portland, Oregon.
THREE LAKES - Managing weeds can be a challenge for many cranberry growers across the state.
James Lake Farms in Three Lakes has been certified organic since 2007.
As organic growers, they are not allowed to use synthetic materials or herbicides to control their weeds.
This spring, they purchased weed eating geese from a nursery to help get rid of the weeds.
"We came across an article from 1954 in a trade magazine that showed that one of our marshes had used weeder geese back then in order to reduce the weed pressure, and we thought, well, this might be a novel approach," said owner John Stauner.
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