Oneida Board Members Discuss Hodag Country Fest In Light Of COVID-19

May 19, 2020

Oneida county courthouse
Credit Royalbroil

With the COVID-19 outbreak as a background, Oneida county board members are hearing public comments about the Hodag Country Fest event set for July in the Town of Pine Lake north of Rhinelander. The event is the largest music festival in this region and annually draws tens of thousands of fans from many parts of the nation.

The board met Tuesday morning.

Following the state Supreme Court ruling last week tossing out the Safer At Home mandates, Oneida county has adopted a series of guidelines about gatherings, but as corporation counsel Brian Desmond pointed out, these guidelines are not mandates...

"It is not a requirement, there is no enforcement action that is associated with those guidelines at this point..."

Some supervisors felt individuals needed to make their own determination about safety.

Supervisor Jack Sorenson's district encompasses the festival grounds..

"The people in Pine Lake, a lot of people are concerned about a large gathering of 30,000 give or take descending on the town and Oneida county for the period of a week..."

Sorenson said he hoped whatever decision is reached be made soon for the sake of all involved.

Late Friday, Attorney General Josh Kaul wrote an interim opinion that the Supreme Court ruling only impacted the state Safer At Home authority. Kaul indicated it did not govern the authority of local health officers to prevent, suppress and control communicable diseases or forbid public gatherings when deemed necessary, as written by Kaul.