RHINELANDER - The Hodag Country Festival brings more than a dozen country music artists to Rhinelander every year.
However, it hasn't always been that way.The grounds may be empty now but last weekend every inch was covered with campers.Gerry Vanharpen knows what it takes to get tens of thousands of people to come together over country music.
"We've been working the festival from the very beginning," said Vanharpen.
Vanharpen's parents Bernie and Diane started the Hodag County Festival with just five performers in 1978. This year the 41st annual festival had 17.
About 20,000 people went to this year's festival. Vanharpen said when the last person left the camp grounds Sunday it was just the beginning.
"We work year round planning the next one," said Vanharpen.
Vanharpen has already started working on security and next year's lineup. She wants to make sure the cheers get louder ever year.
"This year the line up all came together strong and when you book the line up a year in advance you just don't know how things are going to fall and everyone was hitting high on the charts," said Vanharpen.
Vanharpen took over as festival coordinator in 1994. However, every year and after every concert there's one moment she looks forward to.
"It just a calm feeling knowing you had a successful Hodag," said Vanharpen.
There are 357 days until the next festival but until then the campsite and the 500 volunteers will recover from the days of music, bonding and drinking.
"The grounds need a rest right now," said Vanharpen.
The next Hodag Country festival will start on July 11th.