Looking back, looking forward at Hodag Country Fest
RHINELANDER (WAOW) -- The music ended Sunday but the Hodag Country Fest's cleanup got underway Monday.
It was a day to pack up, get the campgrounds clean and start talking about next year.
The novelist Raymond Chandler wrote of "The Long Goodbye" in 1953, but he could have been talking about the day after Hodag.
"We take our time, we're in no hurry," said Joe Hoffland of St. Paul, Minnesota. "We're usually one of the last dogs out of here."
Getting ready to leave the campgrounds is no simple task.
Hoffland says it takes him and his wife almost two hours to pack up.
Once festival goers are packed, they have to deal with the traffic.
"It's steady bumper to bumper," said Blane Powers of Tomahawk. "That's why we don't even try. We just wait until traffic lets up and then we start moving stuff around."
Butch Perrot couldn't wait for everyone to leave.
He says his crew got started hauling the weekend's trash at 6 a.m. Perrot hopes it's only a 12-hour job.
He says there's probably between 60 and 80 tons of garbage for his company, B&B Containers, to take away.
Organizers say at least 20,000 people attended the four-day festival, which kept the Oneida County Sheriff's Department busy.
"Almost all of our staff works this weekend so it's a pretty demanding time," said Lt. Lloyd Gauthier. "In the patrol division, no vacation requests are granted this week."
Sheriff's officials say up to 14 officers patrol the festival grounds because a lot can happen when that many people get together.
They say their patrols saw some variation from previous years.
"The number of arrests for underage drinking was down, but we saw a greater number of arrests for ordinance violations."
Gauthier mentioned there were incidents of disorderly conduct, urinating in public and fighting.
Officials say no one was seriously hurt, so they consider the weekend a success.
Hodag organizers are already thinking about next year. Their web site Monday included this message from Neal McCoy, who has performed at the show 21 times: "Only 361 days until Hodag Country Festival 2015."