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Fireworks Boomed This Fourth of July Weekend, So Did Tourism


People buckled up for road trips and plane rides over the holiday weekend in volumes that haven’t been seen since pre-pandemic.

One popular destination for the travel-hungry? Northern Wisconsin.

After a weekend of picnics and firecrackers, Northwoods communities like Eagle River buzz with activity.

Families walk down crowded sidewalks with dripping ice cream cones.

Empty seats at local bars vanish with the lunchtime rush.

And people spill out of toy shops and clothing stores.

It’s a scene that was familiar last year, when many travelers sought refuge from COVID-19 in the fresh air of the Northwoods.

But this year, some business owners say the crowds are even bigger.

Credit Erin Gottsacker/WXPR
Seats are full at The Craftsman, a bar and restaurant in Eagle River, following Independence Day.

“There are more people up here than I’ve ever seen,” says Lori Schubring, the manager of Fredrick’s Corner Shoppe in Eagle River. “Last year was a chart-topping summer too because everybody came up here, but this is beating last year’s numbers.”

That could be because a lot more people are traveling this year compared to last.

AAA estimates nearly 48 million Americans took a trip this Fourth of July – a 40 percent increase from last year.

A lot of those trips were road trips.

In fact, 2021’s Independence Day is expected to set a record for the number of people traveling by car.

It seems plenty of road trippers ended up in Northern Wisconsin.

That means local businesses have tons of customers.

Their bigger problem – not enough workers to serve all the people coming in.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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