RHINELANDER - Big-name country bands travel to Rhinelander from far away for Hodag Country Fest.
But one local band doesn't have to travel far at all for their Hodag debut.
Take a little punk, some bluegrass, and a whole lot of country and you get the Ditchrunners.
"We like to call it 'Honkey-tonk Guttergrass.' But people say it's kind of punk-countryish, whatever it is. It's our own original thing. We're not trying to be like anybody else we're just doing what we do," says Douglas Bredlau, The Ditchrunners' lead singer.
The Stevens Point band came in first place at one of several Hodag Pick-Off competitions in Wisconsin.
Now they get to play on the main stage of Hodag Country Fest.
"It's a real trip because I know what a big deal it is. I know what a huge event it is in Rhinelander. And I'm going to have a bunch of friends that are going to be there that have been going to Hodag for years, and I'm just really excited to get the chance to play for the hometown crowd," adds Bob Weigandt, The Ditchrunners' mandolin player.
Weigandt grew up in Rhinelander.
Ditchrunner's founder Douglas "Buckshot" Bredlau grew up in Park Falls.
Their debut at Hodag Country Fest will also be a competition.
Bands that won regional Hodag Pick-Offs will compete for the title of Wisconsin State Country Band Champion.
"We are rooted in the tradition of country music and we're kind of trying to bring that back a little bit in the world of pop country I guess," says Bredlau.
When The Ditchrunners perform at Hodag Fest on Friday they'll also pre-release their new full-length album.
"Squirrel Lake up by Minocqua, we spent three days out on an island just recording all day, every day for three straight days," says Alex Dalnodar, The Ditchrunners' guitarist.
It's the band's first album with a record label.
You'll be able to buy it July 16th, the same day they perform at the Rhinelander Ice Arena with Buckcherry.
"It's actually a great family and I love these guys more than anybody. It's been a real good time and it's going to get a lot better. I know that," Bredlau says.
EAGLE RIVER - Several Northwoods schools wanted to make it clear to their students Wednesday, there's always someone there to talk to. Anti-Bullying and suicide prevention speaker Bob Lenz spoke at Three Lakes and Northland Pines high schools Wednesday. Northland Pines Dean of Students Josh Tilley said he hopes students walk away from the talk knowing they can reach out to at least one person when they feel alone.
"Over the last few years, we've been bringing speakers in, national, local and state speakers so that we can really help our students understand that if they feel different they have the opportunity to be an individual, but if it's hurting them they can get help," said Tilley. Northland Pines staff members recently looked closely at their relationships with students by reviewing class rosters. They want to make sure all students have support.
ANTIGO - People around the country will see just how much a police officer killed in the line of duty meant to his family and community.
Karl's Transport in Antigo revealed its newest semi-trailer design Tuesday afternoon. The trailer features Everest Metro Detective Jason Weiland. Weiland, 40, was shot and killed in a shooting rampage around the Wausau area on March 22, 2017.
MARATHON COUNTY - Two important Wisconsin products won't benefit from a possible trade war. It will likely hurt them. Last month President Trump placed tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports. China came back and slapped tariffs on more than 100 U.S. products. The motives are political. But the effects trickle down to hurt local economies.
When it comes to growing ginseng, nobody does it quite like Marathon County.
"Wisconsin ginseng is sort of the cream of the crop when it comes to American ginseng," said Hsu's Ginseng Enterprises Director of Operations Mike Klemp-North.
Ninety percent of the U.S.'s ginseng crop is grown in Wisconsin. Ninety-five percent of that crop is grown in Marathon County.
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