Long-time Hodag Country Fest fan looks back - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Long-time Hodag Country Fest fan looks back


Barb Holmes has seen hundreds of performers take the stage at the Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander. In the event's 35 years, she's only missed three of them.

"Well, I really enjoy the old country. I'm pretty old," she said with a laugh. But at 76-years-old, she's the first to admit she's nowhere near ready to say goodbye to the music.

She said she can still remember what the festival was like in the beginning. 

"Yeah it was about one fourth of what it is now, or one third even. It was smaller," she said.

Barb also has a special connection to the event. Her husband, Jack, played in the band "Marty's Party." The group helps kick-off the festival every year.

"Well, it was 25 years Jack was going to be coming up here to play when he got sick in 2002."

Jack passed away from cancer that year. 

"Jack and Marty played together for I would say 55 years," Barb said.

Now, she pays tribute to her late husband every year when Marty's Party takes the stage, but she admitted, "It's hard not seeing him up there, you know."

She told Newsline 9 even though Hodag has grown through the years, some things will never change.

"You make a lot of friends. People you see once a year...That's my favorite thing," she said.

And although she's not as young as she used to be, she said nothing will keep her from the country crowd.

"Well, I might jump in with them. Who knows? At 76 I'm liable to do anything."

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