36th Hodag Country Festival comes to an endSubmitted: 07/14/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson

36th Hodag Country Festival comes to an end
RHINELANDER - Sunday marked the end of food, beer and of course lots of country music at the Hodag Country Fest.

The 36th annual festival ended with a performance by Neal McCoy.

Lonestar, Gretchen Wilson, and Lee Brice also performed on the last day of the 4-day event.

The weather helped turnout.

About 20,000 people attended each day.

One food vendor said the weather also helped his business.

"This year it's been really great. I'm up about 22 percent from last year," said food vendor Robert M. Jones II.

We also caught up with some Hodag-goers.

They told us what they loved most about this year's Hodag Country Festival.

"Getting to meet people, and it's a very friendly crowd. We've been to all kids of concerts but everybody likes to help each other out and have a good time," said Amy Jo Plowman while attending her 23rd Hodag Festival.

"We get this same spot every year. We sit here because it's the best people watching spot...the guy that shaved his chest so it looked like a bra," said Sue Slominski at her 6th Hodag Fest.

The EMS team on-site said they have not had as many people in need of treatment.

A few had breathing issues because of the humidity and dust.

The team only had to treat a couple people for heat exhaustion.

Looking forward to next year, one Hodag fest-goer has a piece of advice.

"Never trade your belt for a beer," said Nate Rudis.

The festival hosted 16 bands.

Next year's festival will be held July 10th through the 13th.

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


RHINELANDER - This time of year, winter activies start to wind down and the summer fun hasn't quite started yet.

That's why Fisher's Resort and Bar on Lake George in Rhinelander enjoys having it's annual ice golf tournament each year.

"In year's past, March is always kind of a slower season up here in the Northwoods so we figured we'd create an event and put efforts towards a local organization," said Fisher's Resort and Bar owner, Russ Fisher.

That local organization they raise money for is the Hodag Sno-trails snowmobile club.

This year, the tournament had it's biggest turn out.

30 teams came to play, including first timer Dennis Herrmann who lives right across the lake.

"This has nothing to do with golf, I can tell you that right now. But it's a challenge for all the obvious reasons. But you do it for the charity, you do it for the fun and it gives everybody the chance to get out," said Herrmann.

This year they cut it down from 18 holes to 13 so people could get inside faster to enjoy the chili and the raffle items after their round of golf.

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WAUSAU - When you think of Wisconsin, two things might come to mind - beer and snow. 

The Granite Peak Ski Area in Wausau decided to combine the two and host an annual brew fest. 

Andy Ledesma is the head brewer at Red Eye Brewing Company in Wausau. The Granite Peak Brew Fest is one of the many perks of his job.

"No other beer fest is like this, that's for sure," said Ledesma.

He definitely wasn't alone serving more than 40 beers on Saturday. 

Jeff Geurink works for South Shore Brewery in Ashland. They've been around for 20 years, but they wanted to make this brew fest a part of their line up.

"Get our name out there and make sure people are enjoying our beer and get as much information as possible out about our brewery so then when they go out and get a beer, they remember us," said Geurink.

Something everyone will remember from the brew fest was the set-up.

"Snow bar?! You can't get that in the summer time," said Roland Bruhnke.

He's right. Most beer festivals are in the summer. But when it's still feeling like winter in March, Granite Peak turns lemons into lemonade, or more appropriately, hops into beer.

"I think it definitely helped that when they get to the bottom of the hill, you see a bunch of beer," said beer salesman Jesse Bartnik.

So even though beer and physical activity isn't the best combination, dozens of people were loving it this weekend.

"The winter, the skiing, the beer, it's all one big package all rolled into one," said Bruhnke.

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RHINELANDER - The warmer weather might have you spending more time outside with man's best friend.

But the remaining snow and ice could increase the risk of injury for dogs.

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RHINELANDER - Kathie Woodford keeps track of each time she donates blood.  Her visit to a Rhinelander blood drive on Friday marked her 26th pint.

"I just recently got my third gallon," Woodford said.

The universal donor (Woodford has O-negative blood) likes to give as often as she can, but Friday's blood drive was one she simply couldn't miss.

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MADISON - The Conservation Congress plans to ask attendees at its spring hearings whether lawmakers should charge people to use state land and eliminate group hunting.

The congress asks hearing attendees every year for their positions on current outdoors issues. The answers are advisory only.

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RHINELANDER - An Oneida County judge set a trial date for a Rhinelander woman charged in the death of her toddler stepson.
Ellen Tran's trial is expected to start with jury selection on October 19.

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ANTIGO - "It did come as a shock at first, but it's something that you realize it's not the end of the world," said Tracie Quade. 

Quade's 18-month old son, Benny, was diagnosed with Down syndrome when he was born.

"It's actually a really, really awesome thing. People with Down syndrome are wonderful loving people and they are just as capable of doing as much as anybody else," said Quade.

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