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Hodag Country Fest and 4th of July in the same week brings big business to Rhinelander

People packed into downtown Rhinelander for the annual 4th of July parade.
Katie Thoresen
People packed into downtown Rhinelander for the annual 4th of July parade.

There was a seemingly never-ending stream of people coming into Briar House in Rhinelander during the first week of July.

“We kind of know what to expect 4th of July week. We know that there’s going to be a lot of tourists in town, so we expect a pretty busy week. We saw that once again this year, which was very nice. Then just with country fest right next to it, it was just kind of non-stop for two weeks,” said Briar House co-owner Claire Buss is the co-owner.

The 4th of July and Hodag Country Fest don’t typically fall over the same week.

Lauren Sacket is the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce CEO.

She thinks the heavy traffic was a combination of people taking off a full week for the 4th since it fell on Tuesday and people starting to camp at Hodag when the grounds opened on the 1st.

“That first week of July was crazy. The day after the 4th of July and the day before Hodag Country Festival started we had over 100 people that just came into our office,” said Sackett.

Sackett says their office had more visitors the first 10 days of July than January and February combined.

It was a mix of families looking for recommendations for parks, trails, and museums to take their kids to and people in town early for country fest looking for restaurants and things to do ahead of the concerts.

The increase may also be attributed to the general tourism growth the Northwoods have seen in recent years.

Visitor spending in Oneida County has increased each year in the last two years.

Rhinelander has seen that impact.

“The tourism data that we track, we are seeing higher room tax collection and our hotels are reporting good occupancies of travelers,” said Sackett.

Claire Buss hasn’t taken a look back at year-over-year numbers at Briar House to see how this 4th of July compared to last.

But she’s definitely noticed an uptick in recent years.

“I’m just happy we’re continuously busy and that we’re seeing all the tourists still come to Rhinelander. It seems like there’s been an increase in that which is awesome to see,” said Buss.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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