Countdown is on for Hodag - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Countdown is on for Hodag

In just a few days, the sights and sounds of country music will return to Hodag Country Festival for the 35th year.

Even though a year has passed and the artists have changed, one thing has stayed the same. Every year, Jo and Butch Hildebrandt set up camp in the same spot. 

"We've been coming for 15 years," Jo said. "We get to see people we only see once a year, right here."

For them, the party started as soon as the gates opened.

"It's a vacation filled with good music and good people," Jo explained.

It's not just the Hildebrandts. Event organizers say 34,000 people will pack the campgrounds throughout the week and that many people means big things for the local economy.

"It's a huge boost and its something our businesses really rely on every summer," Executive Director of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Lara Reed said.

A $2 million per day boost. Adding up to almost $14 million for the week. And, it's all funneled into the local economy.

"This is a reliable week that we know is going to happen and know we will see that large number of people come to the area," Reed explained.

One area business knows that first hand.

"We rely on country fest," Dave Clark said. Clark's family has owned Stephanie's Country Store for five years. They say without Hodag they wouldn't survive.

"It brings in a lot of money," Clark said.

During Hodag, Clark says store sales almost triple. And, their location makes them a prime stop.

"We are the last gas station before you head into the campground," He said.

So, whether you're camping out or selling out... there's a Hodag tradition for everyone.

To see a complete list of this years performers, click here.

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