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Camp visiting weekend brings business to NorthwoodsSubmitted: 07/11/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson


NORTHWOODS - You may notice more people on the roads, lakes, at restaurants, and in stores the next few weekends. Many overnight camps in the Northwoods host a visiting weekend for their campers' families, and that means big money for local businesses.

"We're talking thousands of parents invading Minocqua, and Rhinelander and Eagle River throughout the weekend," said Camp Kawaga Director Matt Abrams.

There are more than 20 overnight camps in Vilas and Oneida Counties, and at least half host a visiting weekend. That's when parents come up to visit their kids spending the summer at an overnight camp. Though they visit camp, parents and campers spend a lot of time in the community.

"Really, most of the time they're out," added Abrams. "They're going to dinner. They're going go-carting."

"Camp weekend really is a special weekend. We can count on the store being packed to the walls with people. And they're a very good crowd," said Michael Johnson, manager of Dan's Minocqua Fudge.

The store has been welcoming campers and their families for 47 years.

"Every year we have people that stop in here at the store and will tell us a nice story of how they came here when they were a camp kid or when they came here with their grandparents and now they're bringing their grandchildren here," Johnson added.

Like Dan's Minocqua Fudge, The White Stag Inn in Sugar Camp also sees a larger crowd on visiting weekend. The owners say they'll serve more than 500 people in just a five hour period. It's a popular restaurant among visiting families and camp alumni.

"We are seeing multi-generations. So my brothers and I are now the third generation here at the White Stag and we're seeing the third and fourth generation of campers. So it's really kind of a unique experience to have grown up not only with the parents, but now having their kids and grandkids here," said White Stag Inn co-owner Anissa Widule.

Restaurants and shops aren't the only businesses that get a boost from visiting weekend.

"These parents are booking the hotels a year ahead because they know they're coming the next year so this is a consistent boon for the Minocqua area," Abrams said.

But the business boom doesn't necessarily end on Sunday.

"We've had families that have ended up buying second homes up here," Abrams added. "The other thing that a lot of them do is they rent homes."

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TOMAHAWL - A Tomahawk police officer pulled an autistic boy to safety after the 10-year-old went too far into a river.

Saturday afternoon around one, Tomahawk police got a call about an unattended child in the water near Kings Road and the Highway 51 bridge.

The child refused to come out.

The officer was familiar with the boy, and knew he was autistic and non-verbal.

The child went further into the water, and the officer saw him go under.

The officer swam in, spotted the child's colored shirt under the water, and was able to pull him out.

The water was 10 to 15 feet deep in the area.

The child's father was contacted, and the boy was released to him.

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MINOCQUA - While the rain this weekend stopped some Memorial Day activities, businesses in the Northwoods saw sales boom. Rain made tourists head indoors to see what different businesses had to offer.

Many Minocqua area businesses said the weekend was very busy because of the rainy and cloudy weather. Business was slower Monday compared to the weekend.

At Dan's Minocqua Fudge this weekend, staff saw thousands come in to shop.

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ANTIGO - A group of tractor enthusiasts showed off their work Monday morning at Antigo's Memorial Day parade.

The Northwoods Tractor Club prides itself on refurbishing old tractors to like new condition.

The not for profit group started with just 20 members and has steadily grown to more than 100.

"Northwoods Tractor Club started in 2011 and it's a group of tractor enthusiasts that kinda thought well maybe we should get together and have an organization, maybe help out the community a little bit. So, we got together with 20 guys back then and now we're well over 100 members," says club President Mike McDougal.

Many of the tractors are hand me downs or ones that are too old to be used in the field.

That's why finding replacement parts can be tricky.

"A lot of times it's the family tractor that had been on their parents or grandparents farm. We reworked it and use it for parades such as today. Our whole general purpose of the organization is to raise money and establish an agriculture tractor museum up just north of Antigo is where we're looking at some land right now," says McDougal.

Many of the tractors date back to the 1930s.

Meeting are held on the last Monday of every month at Quinn's Bar in Neva Corners.

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WHITE LAKE - People held grand ceremonies all over of the United States today in honor of Memorial Day.

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ARBOR VITAE - Many people enjoy being on the lake and away from work on Memorial Day.

But some volunteers were working hard Monday on local lakes to prevent the spread of AIS.

Volunteers from Clean Boats, Clean Waters work at different lakes to check boats as they come in and out of the water. They often catch common mistakes, and teach boaters how they can help stop the spread of AIS.

"They usually recommend draining the water up away from the landing that way anything mixed in with the water in the boat doesn't get back in the lake," said volunteer Aaron Tomasoski. "Pretty often people will drain it out. It's been that way for a while, but people are starting to get a hang of it. But we are making progress on that."

Clean Boats, Clean Waters is a state-wide volunteer program that grew out of a program called Milfoil Masters, created by Minocqua middle schoolers in 2003.

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