Snow events mean big business for the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 02/08/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas

EAGLE RIVER - Traffic around the Northwoods might be a little busy this weekend.

But that's making plenty of business owners happy, thanks to a little "white gold."

Up in the Northwoods it does more than add to the beauty of the landscape.

It's bringing in business that is much needed.

After a winter with weather ups and downs, the snow is finally here.

"It's a blessing from the sky," said Matt Rankin, owner of Eagle River Inn and Resort.

That blessing couldn't be timed better.

Eagle River is hosting thousands at the USA Hockey "Pond Hockey Championship"

"The energy level at the pond hockey is, I've never been to anything that's higher. It is amazing," said Conrad Heeg from the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League State Championships returns to Rhinelander.

And all this white stuff is bringing in the green.

"It's just been phenomenal, it packs the lodging. Of course people need to go out to eat and buy gas and hopefully do some shopping while they're here, so it trickles down to our whole economy," said Heeg.

Over at the Eagle River Inn and Resort- all rooms are full.

"Business has been great, thanks to the pond hockey and snow, it's excellent and snowmobilers, with everybody," said Rankin.

The Rhinelander Café and Pub is already gearing up for skier traffic this weekend.

"That's a lot of families coming into the area, and my whole goal is to make sure they have a good time here in Rhinelander, and they want to come back maybe in the summer time because they've enjoyed the community," said Rhinelander Café and Pub owner Mark Gutteter.

In the meantime, the economy is enjoying its new company.

The Pond Hockey Championship and Nordic Ski State Championships continue throughout the rest of the weekend.

Pond Hockey will bring 2 thousand players from about 30 different states to Eagle River.

The Nordic Ski Championships will host almost 400 skiers and their families.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

"People come to this whether there's good weather of bad weather," said Executive Director of the Eagle River Chamber Kim Emerson. "And with this year being great weather, we had above-average crowds and it was just spectacular. We're so happy about that."

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the World's Largest Cranberry Cheesecake had already been devoured. Sales of slices go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. 

Organizers said they also almost sold out of cranberries, but they said they would still have more to sell on Sunday. 

There were also dozens of craft vendors, food and wine and cranberry marsh tours.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event had a hay maze, horse drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

"I think it's going great. We got a little sunshine right now. We got probably a couple hundred people here. People are buying food, spending money. It's what we're after," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hanson.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp portraying lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. all had a piece of history to share.

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MERRILL - One Northwoods farm wants to give all families the full Fall experience.

Grampa's Farm in Merrill has been a popular fall destination in Wisconsin since 2010.

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WOOD COUNTY - Two people who stole a UTV led police on a wild chase early Friday morning. Friday night, those suspects were still on the run.

The Wood County Sheriff's Office tells us a sporting goods store owner walked in as the burglary was happening, just before 7 a.m. The suspects took off in a red Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer with the stolen UTV. They crashed through several gates to get out.

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VILAS COUNTY - In July, Karen Wessel gave her life to save a boy from drowning in Vilas County's Star Lake.  Now she is being recognized for her heroism.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced Wessel as one of 22 recipients of the Carnegie medal.  It's presented to people who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while trying to save the life of another.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Lakes bring a lot of visitors here to the Northwoods, but they also bring scientists.

The UW Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction just wrapped up its summer research season.

The UW Trout Lake Station is a research station for limnology students at UW Madison. It's mostly graduate students and faculty from Madison's Center for limnology.

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