Country Fest regulars talk about camping traditionSubmitted: 07/12/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

RHINELANDER - Every year, Hodag Country Fest takes over Rhinelander for a weekend in the middle of July. For many of the tens of thousands of country festers, it's a weeklong event.

"I had a good time so I came back," says Betty Garrow, from Rome, WI.

That was 23 years ago. Now Garrow has one of the most coveted camping spots on the Hodag Country Fest fairgrounds.

"He says, 'I married her for that'. I brought him up here and then we got married the next year," says Garrow.

"No, we would have gotten married anyway. But you gotta tell these guys up here that I married her for this spot," says Weston Garrow.

Campsite claiming can be a cutthroat business. It's how the group next to the Garrow's became their long-time Hodag neighbors.

"Oh yeah, since I moved here they've been across from us," says Betty Garrow.

"Apparently two women who had these sites before, they forgot to call in in the time allotted. We happened to trade in our old spots for these. We met them one time out on the road. They were staring at the sites and said, 'those used to be our sites'," says Al Sadowski, from Stevens Point.

These Happy Hodagers obviously come for more than the four day weekend of music. They start camping the Saturday before.

"I think it's the people. It isn't so much the entertainers because they're all good," says Betty Garrow.

"All the camaraderie, all the fun with people," says Weston Garrow.

"We probably enjoy the beginning of the week best because the concert isn't really on, and you get more time to visit and catch up on old times," says Sadowski.

This group bonded so well they've even been to each other's children's weddings. And they have advice for this year's first-timers.

"Just have fun, I guess. Do whatever you want to do," says Betty Garrow.

"You'll see something you're never going to believe. Just take it as is and run, before you lose your eyesight," says Weston Garrow.

"Don't get too smashed, maintain your soberism, and just have a good time," says Sadowski.

Advice it might be wise to follow. These seasoned vets would know better than anybody the recipe for a "Happy Hodag".

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RHINELANDER - The yellow Historical Society Museum on Pelham Street looks like many houses here in Rhinelander, but step through the doorway and see early 1900's history packed from wall to wall.

The Historical Society Museum will have an open house Saturday from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Pieces of Rhinelander's past are preserved inside the house.

Some of those items include a black and white photo of the original hodag, a drum from the old paper mill marching band, and a dining room set made by the Rhinelander Boat Company.

Not only are those items inside the house artifacts, so is the house itself.

"If the walls were empty there would be stories and neat things to see here. You take that, just the neat house and then of course fill it up with all of the items, every room is just a multitude of stories of different items that are in it," said Vice President of the Rhinelander Historical Society Bill Vancos.

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RHINELANDER - Northwoods Veterans will be taken care of this flu season thanks to The Rhinelander Veterans Affair Clinic. 

The clinic will provide free flu shots for Veterans starting Friday. 

Half the Veteran population is over 60 years old, which puts them at increasing risk with flu complications.

 Clinic nurse Christina Paris wants to make sure the Veteran community is taken care of. 

"We like to think of our Veterans as part of our extended family. 

And it's heartwarming to know that we can be here to help them and serve them the best we can," said Paris.

Providing this service to Veterans hits close to home for Paris.

 She served in the Air Force as a medic for 20 years. As a Veteran herself, she understands how important this service is.

"I'm so connected and I really feel like helping fellow service members and fellow Veterans is really important," said Paris.

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LAKEWOOD - What would you do if you felt like part of your history was taken from you?

That's what it felt like for Lakewood community members when the state fish hatchery shut down after operating for 72 years.

Since its doors opened in 1939, generations of Lakewood community members toured the DNR Hatchery.

"It was just a piece of our history," said Lakewood resident Scott VanLaanen.

Due to funding cuts the DNR shut down the trout hatchery in 2011.

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RHINELANDER - Fifty-one Wisconsin residents lost their lives to domestic violence last year.

Rhinelander's Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault will honor those lives Friday night at a vigil.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/28/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Wisconsin high school football level 2 playoffs begin tonight. We will take you live to Green Bay where the Antigo Red Robins will take on Green Bay Notre Dame. We'll give you a preview of that game and tell you the challenge the Robins will face.

Also, on tonight's Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10, we will bring you highlights from that game as well as from Hudson vs. Stevens Point and Marathon vs. Abbotsford.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Prosecutors believe a 52-year-old man from southeastern Wisconsin drove up to Hazelhurst to have sex with a 14-year-old girl he met online.

Robert Weiss  of Hartford appeared via video in Oneida County Court Friday.

According to the criminal complaint, Weiss started talking with the girl on a website called "Hitwe." 

Weiss told the girl his name was Keegan and he was 14 years old.

On October 10, Weiss showed up at the girl's house and sexually assaulted her.

He was arrested early this morning.

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SCHOFIELD - Earlier this week, people found out Affordable Care Act premiums would go up by an average of more than 20 percent next year. In some cases, that could make some payments go up $50 to $300 per month.

It's just one reason two senators called Obamacare "a disaster."

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