Hodag Country Fest stimulates Rhinelander economy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Hodag Country Fest stimulates Rhinelander economy

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RHINELANDER (WAOW) -- Hodag Country Festival is winding down. With the concerts wrapping up Sunday night, Rhinelander will be saying goodbye to thousands of music lovers, many who helped boost the local businesses.

"The two weeks of Fourth of July and Country Fest are intense around Rhinelander," said Erin Skinner, the general manager of AmericInn in Rhinelander and a past president of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce.

The city accommodates people from all over the country and as a result, the Rhinelander tourism industry sees a jump.

"The rooms book a year in advance most of the time," Skinner said. "Everywhere you go, a lot of businesses are just going crazy with people."

Some hotel managers say this weekend gets a 30 to 40 percent increase in business from a regular weekend, but people need more than just a place to stay.

"The hotel was usually a couple hundred bucks, and then getting into the grounds is a couple hundred bucks, and then you spend a couple hundred on food and a couple hundred on beer and by the time you're all done it's a thousand dollars," said Chris Lannoye of Wausau.

"People are going to gas stations, they're going to restaurants, they're going to grocery stores and those places are employing our local people, so of course it's a boost to our economy," said Skinner.

The Pine Lake Fire Department sees the influx of people as a fundraising opportunity.

They've been selling ice down the road from the festival entrance for four years.

"Just pull up, tell us how many bags of ice they want and we'll bring it out and load it into their truck or cooler," said Brian Gehrig, Pine Lake's Fire Chief.

Fire officials say they're on pace to raise almost $10,000 for the department this year.

"We're going through about 100 bags every 45 minutes," Gehrig said.

Hotel managers say the fun-filled weekend leaves a lasting impression on many of those new to the area.

"They see the attractions that we have to offer and it brings them around numerous times throughout the year," said Skinner.

She says when many guests check out Sunday, they book their rooms for next year's Hodag Country Fest.
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