Hodag Country Music Festival called off for 2020

Hodag Park sign. Image courtesy: WXPR.
Hodag Park sign. Image courtesy: WXPR.

RHINELANDER, WI (WSAU) -- The biggest outdoor concert series in Northern Wisconsin is the latest event to be canceled.

The 2020 Hodag Country Music Festival in Rhinelander announced they are pulling the plug on this year's event, just two days after county officials voted to issue a permit for the event.

"The possibility of having the Hodag Country Festival has created stress and division in the Rhinelander area, and we are sincerely apologetic for this. It was never our intent. The festival has always been about the community. We have been here for 43 years and have always supported the Northwoods area. Hodag hopes we can continue to have your support in the future," read a statement issued by organizers on Thursday.

Organizers added while they were holding out hope for a modified event, the safety of performers and attendees won out.

Those who purchased tickets for the 2020 show, which had been scheduled for mid-July, will have the option to roll those over to 2021 or receive a full refund. Camping passes will also be transferred to 2021. Instructions on how to notify organizers of your decision will be posted within the next ten days.

Darius Rucker has committed to playing the 2021 show, currently scheduled for July 8-11. It's unclear if any of the other acts will be on board as well.

Thursday's announcement comes less than 24 hours after the Oneida County Health Officer released a statement about the decision to grant a large assembly permit for the event, saying they have no power to stop the event but also didn't have a say in issuing it either.

Had the festival taken place this year, it would have been with over two dozen modifications to encourage social distancing and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. That includes a limited capacity, more access to hand sanitizer, and the cancelation of Wednesday's popular lawn chair placement event.