Country Fest regulars talk about camping traditionSubmitted: 07/12/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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".

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by


THREE LAKES - In many communities, it doesn't feel like the holidays without first lighting a tree. In Three Lakes Friday, that meant more than 3,000 lights on a 95-foot tree.

The tree-lighting ceremony was a part of the 21st Festival of Lights. You could also find Santa and Mrs. Claus among the crowd.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Here in Northern Wisconsin, you can find Christmas trees just about anywhere you look.

Other parts of the country aren't so lucky.

That's why a forestry and real estate consulting company in Tomahawk sends the perfect pines, spruces, and firs to those who really need them.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning.  A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.

Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive.  For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.

+ Read More

Play Video

MOSINEE - This past week, hunters took the time to head out in the woods, sit in their tree stands, and wait for a buck to come their way.

But not everyone plays by the rules.

Every year, wildlife officers work hard to catch deer poachers.

+ Read More

Play Video

ANTIGO - As successful hunters look to fill their freezers with venison, they often don't have a use for the deer's heart. But donating that heart can be a big help to an area rehab center.

+ Read More

A Republican legislator has introduced a bill that would require drivers who lack valid licenses to immediately surrender their vehicles to police.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin began circulating the proposal for co-sponsors on Tuesday. He said in a memo to his fellow lawmakers that the measure would keep dangerous and irresponsible motorists off the road.

+ Read More

Play Video

WOODRUFF - Community members gathered at Holy Family Church in Woodruff to celebrate Thanksgiving earlier Thursday.

This is the 30th year the church has held a free meal for people. It started out as just church members coming together to celebrate the holiday. Now, volunteers serve more than 500 meals.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here