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Country Fest Wields Economic Clout

Matt Clark

Rhinelander is about to get hit with a wave of country music fans, during the area’s biggest tourism event. 

  The four-day Hodag Country Festival begins Thursday, and tens of thousands of people are expected to attend.  Director of the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Lara Reed says the economic impact on the region is huge.

“We say for every visitor that spends the night in our community, it’s $180 a day. So if we say there’s 20,000 people for Hodag Country Fest, it’s a $3.6 million impact a day for the duration of the festival.”

Many Country Festival visitors make their stay into a week-long vacation. Reed says area hotels and resorts are almost completely booked, and have been for weeks.  Reed says the Country Fest brings peak tourism numbers.

“No doubt, the Hodag Country Fest is Rhinelander’s signature event. It’s what people know of as far as an event that happens in our area that brings people here. We have a lot of other great events and festivals, but the economic impact that we see – it doesn’t compare to anything else.”

Reed says large numbers of people camping out mean grocery stores and restaurants get a big boost…but the impact on business is felt across the board. 

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