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NEWS STORIES

Eagle River kicks-off Snowmobile Vintage Race Submitted: 01/11/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

EAGLE RIVER - Today kicks off the 50th Anniversary of the Snowmobile Vintage Race in Eagle River.

Tomorrow, racers will qualify for the championship.

The finals are on Sunday.

Chuck Decker is the president of the world championship snowmobile derby.

He said the race isn't JUST exciting for competitors.

"This is a big boost for the economy. We're going to fill the entire Northwoods area for about two weeks, when normally there would be nobody here because we don't have the snow right now for people to come up in snowmobiling." said Decker.

"So I think a lot of people are pretty happy right now that the races are going on."

Bill Chad came from Merrill to see the vintage race.

For him, Eagle River is the only place to be this weekend.

"You just got to come out here and experience this. Something like this back at home, there's nothing like this available." said Chad.

"So I guess you have to travel a little bit and yea the weather can be better, but we make the best of it."

About 5 thousand people are expected this weekend for the vintage race.

But next weekend, 20-thousand people will show up for the main event.

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But there are already plenty of people camping out for the big event in the Northwoods.

Those campers benefit businesses in the Northwoods both new and old.

Johnny Nickolaou, who opened his liquor store in Sugar Camp around Thanksgiving, understands the importance of tourism.

"Huge, you know you depend on locals year round and they are great, but if it weren't for them I could never afford to be open," said Nickalaou. "But it's really nice getting this push to hopefully get us through the winter months."

Nickolaou set up a deal in preparation of Hodag Country Festival. He discounted around 10 large orders.

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"We've been here for a month, but the organization has been together for about three years," said Summer Program Director Erica Bush. "We're very excited to be in our own building finally."

Classes can cost anywhere from $20 to $50. People can sign up for classes ahead of time or just walk into the center. Program directors think it's important for kids to get involved in art early on.

"It's the creativity that the kids learn about," said Bush. "Creativity can go into all different aspects—math, science—it's everywhere. So enforcing art when they're really young will really lead to a more intelligent future for these kids."

The center offers anything from painting to pottery to cooking. Kids shared why they love to take art classes.
"You could just grab a piece of paper or something and then you can just doodle on it," said 4th grader Nicholas Fluegel. 

"It's really calming, and there's no bad way to do art," said 6th grader Grace Florence.

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That's all changed. Pat's Foods has now been open for a year in town.

A vacant space in Florence looked like a slab of concrete with a roof a year ago. Now, Pat's Foods stays busy every day at the location. The full service grocery store supplies food and fresh produce, meats, and dairy. That convenience means people are shopping steadily at Pat's, and business is good.

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