RHINELANDER - Every year, Hodag Country Fest takes over Rhinelander for a weekend in the middle of July. For many of the tens of thousands of country festers, it's a weeklong event.
"I had a good time so I came back," says Betty Garrow, from Rome, WI.
That was 23 years ago. Now Garrow has one of the most coveted camping spots on the Hodag Country Fest fairgrounds.
"He says, 'I married her for that'. I brought him up here and then we got married the next year," says Garrow.
"No, we would have gotten married anyway. But you gotta tell these guys up here that I married her for this spot," says Weston Garrow.
Campsite claiming can be a cutthroat business. It's how the group next to the Garrow's became their long-time Hodag neighbors.
"Oh yeah, since I moved here they've been across from us," says Betty Garrow.
"Apparently two women who had these sites before, they forgot to call in in the time allotted. We happened to trade in our old spots for these. We met them one time out on the road. They were staring at the sites and said, 'those used to be our sites'," says Al Sadowski, from Stevens Point.
These Happy Hodagers obviously come for more than the four day weekend of music. They start camping the Saturday before.
"I think it's the people. It isn't so much the entertainers because they're all good," says Betty Garrow.
"All the camaraderie, all the fun with people," says Weston Garrow.
"We probably enjoy the beginning of the week best because the concert isn't really on, and you get more time to visit and catch up on old times," says Sadowski.
This group bonded so well they've even been to each other's children's weddings. And they have advice for this year's first-timers.
"Just have fun, I guess. Do whatever you want to do," says Betty Garrow.
"You'll see something you're never going to believe. Just take it as is and run, before you lose your eyesight," says Weston Garrow.
"Don't get too smashed, maintain your soberism, and just have a good time," says Sadowski.
Advice it might be wise to follow. These seasoned vets would know better than anybody the recipe for a "Happy Hodag".
RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments.
"We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson.
Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's.
"We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson.
"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent.
The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants.
"For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent.
"We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth.
RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department.
Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is.
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