MINOCQUA - Chestnuts roasted over an open fire as Santa and his elves heard what local children want to put on their wish list.
One town in the Northwoods celebrated Christmas early. On Saturday afternoon in Minocqua, people combined Christmas with small business Saturday. Chamber marketing manager Jane Kinchelow says she heard nothing but good feedback from people in the community.
"It brings the community together. It's a holiday atmosphere. People are happy," said Kinchelow.
Hundreds of people lined up for hours to have a special visit with Santa and Mrs Claus. Down the street at Earth Goods, visitors stopped by for a different Christmas-themed character. Owner Karissa Livingston says this was a perfect twist to bring shoppers out for small business Saturday.
"We have the grinch here today. He's just hilarious," said Livingston. "It's a fun spoof on Christmas and not something you see during the Christmas season all the time."
Livingston says this was a nice event to bring people out of their house during the cold weather.
"Events like this are great for the downtown area. It brings locals out, it brings tourists out," said Livingston. "It's small business Saturday so it gives everyone an opportunity to support their local businesses."
Christmas in Minocqua is hosted every year the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Jennifer Mesner from Envie's Footwear says this event gets bigger and better every year.
"I think more and more people are coming out this day also to shop at our local stores which is really nice to see," said Mesner.
RHINELANDER - Tuesday, the Oneida County Public Safety Committee approved a large gathering permit for the Hodag Country Festival. Thursday, organizers said they're no longer going to have the festival.
In a message posted on the festival's website, organizers wrote: the safety of the Rhinelander community is more important than the festival.
Adding, "The possibility of having the Hodag Country Festival has created stress and division in the Rhinelander area, and we are sincerely apologetic for this. It was never our intent. The festival has always been about community. We have been here for 43 years, and have always supported the Northwoods area. Hodag hopes we can continue to have your support in the future."
Oneida County Health Dept. head Linda Conlon said her department is thankful for the decision.
"We do appreciate the difficulty of this decision on their part and in this time of uncertainty and it's important that we're all on the same page related to the health and well-being to our community," said Conlon.
Within the next 10 days, organizers wrote they will be emailing and posting instructions to request a refund or rollover for 2021.
Festival organizers wrote that they expect a strong return in 2021 and that their headline act this year, Darius Rucker, will be at Hodag next year.
MADISON - Wisconsin Republicans sparred with leaders in Democratic Gov. Tony Evers administration during a sometimes heated legislative hearing Wednesday, faulting them for not doing enough to quickly process surging unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic.
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