Supposedly discovered in Rhinelander, Wisconsin in 1893, a Hodag has the head of a frog, the face of an elephant, and the back of a dinosaur. Now the official symbol of the town, this grinning mythical creature seemed to be the perfect name for the festival that celebrates everything great about country music.
With over four decades of experience, the Eckert family has been bringing country music fans together since 1978. Taking place in a natural outdoor amphitheater, the Hodag Country Festival is one of the biggest country events in the Northwoods region of the state. It provides a perfect annual opportunity to get together and enjoy some of the biggest country stars rocking the stage in the upper Midwest. With so much to do and quality music to enjoy, the HCF promises to be a social highlight for fans of all ages.
Head on down to the Hodag for delicious foods, refreshing drinks and good old country music in the Wisconsin summer sun. By the end of the nine-day music and camping extravaganza, new friends will seem like family, and you will soon be reserving your spot for next year’s event.
There are various ticket options available at the Hodag Country Festival, including daily tickets from around $75 and tickets that start at around $130 for the whole event. The whole family is welcome at Hodag, and children’s tickets are available for around $30 for a one-day ticket and $70 for the full nine days. It is advised that you book in advance to avoid paying premium gate prices.
Camping onsite is only permitted with the nine-day ticket option, and it is not possible to stay at the campsite if you have only booked for the day. If you are planning on staying onsite for the event, reservations must be made by phone, and you will not be able to purchase camping tickets at the gates.
Smaller U.S. and state highways will bring you to the area in Northern Wisconsin. The festival grounds are located at 4270 River Road, Rhinelander, WI 54501, which is about a 10-minute drive from Downtown Rhinelander. With up to 50, 0000 people in attendance, the roads can get busy, and you will want to set off with time to spare. Follow road and weather updates via 511 services for Wisconsin as you travel to this region just south of Lake Superior.
There is parking available at Hodag for an additional fee, with the daily permit being around $10 and the weekend $25. You may also find extra parking available offsite, but it is limited. Alternately, if you are camping at the festival, each camping spot has enough space for your tent, RV or caravan, and one vehicle.
Public transportation in the area is limited with many out-of-state visitors to the Hodag Country Festival choosing to rent a car or take a domestic flight. The closest major airport to the event is the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport. If you are traveling from a closer location, Rhinelander does have some public transportation that connects the festival to some local areas; just check out the Northwoods Transit Connections for more information.
Get fully immersed in the Hodag experience with onsite camping. As a temporary site, camping at the festival is relatively primitive, but it does have all the basics for those with a true camping spirit. With hot and clean showers available for an additional fee, bathrooms are located throughout the site, and RV dump stations and water spigots at several points across the campsites. If you would like to upgrade your stay, VIP camping is also available. All camping is reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so it can be difficult to get a spot if you have left it to the last minute. However, there is overflow camping available, with shuttle bus transportation provided.
The festival is located amid tree-filled Wisconsin, with the country showdown going on amongst stunning scenery and impressive lakes. If you would prefer to stay off-site or you are not planning on attending for the whole nine days, there are a few campsites nearby, with varying facilities and amenities. Although local campsites do get busy, and some even have a three-night minimum stay during this period.
Most of the getting around at the Hodag Country Festival will be on foot, so make sure that you have a pair of comfy shoes in tow. Most people take chairs into the event the day before to place their seats and grab the best spot. If you have any issues regarding accessibility or you have any queries or questions, contact the team before the event. The HCF does also have a regular shuttle bus, running to and from the event and to the overflow camping site.
Think country style and festival fashion when packing your attire. The vibe at the Hodag Country Festival is definitely about staying comfy rather than rocking your best look. It can get a bit cold, so you may require some warmer clothing options and layers, especially for the evenings. Rain is also a possibility, and as a result, proper gear is advised. You may want to think carefully about your choice of footwear and include sturdy shoes that can get wet.
If you are planning to camp, you will want to consider what items will most benefit you for the full nine days of camping. Note the size of your camper and the items that you select in relation to the dimensions of your selected campsite; don't bring more than you need. Consider cooking equipment that functions for multiple meal types to help you bring variety to your trip. Generators are allowed at the event, and there are RV dump stations available.
Whilst the Hodag offers a great party atmosphere, it is important to remember that this is a family-friendly event. Be on your best behavior and check out the rules and regulations before you attend. It is also noted that pets are allowed at the festival, as long as they are always on a leash and kept under control. However, they are not permitted to be near the seating area or vendor stands.
You can easily cook at your campsite at the Hodag Country Festival. Whether you want to make smores, grill sausages, or any other campsite snacks, fire pits are allowed but only to a maximum of six inches. If you would prefer to take a generator, these are allowed but must be turned off during quiet time. Alternately, the HCF does have a limited number of electrical sites available. Taking your own food and drink into the festival is allowed, but all glass items are prohibited.
At just a ten minute drive into Rhinelander itself, the town has a selection of restaurants, shops, and anything else that you are likely to need. Whether you are just looking for something quick and easy or a sit-down meal for a break away from the festival atmosphere, there are over 30 restaurants within the local area, with a wide choice of cuisines from around the world. Reservations are recommended at many of the local establishments.
Fans will encounter plenty of vendors at the Hodag Country Festival serving up a delicious array of festival food and Hodag favorites. With so many unique vendors from around the country, there is bound to be something to tickle your taste buds. Head to the Pavilion, where as well as a wide array of fab festival food and refreshing alcoholic beverages, you can also shop official HCF t-shirts and souvenirs.
Security will be on site to make sure that everything goes without a hitch. It is important to remember that festival-goers seek rest during the designated quiet hours. However, the party does carry on until late at the Pavilion for any night owls. Before attending the festival, it is important to check what items are prohibited. For example, selfie sticks are not allowed in the festival grounds, and drones are forbidden throughout the event. Any items that are found that are on the banned list may be confiscated.
In the summer, Rhinelander usually brings average highs and lows in the 50s, 60s, and 70s Fahrenheit. Summer in Wisconsin tends to be hot and humid, but it can be quite varied, and there is always a chance of rain. The festival will happen come rain or shine, with no refunds available as a result of wet weather.
It is important to stay healthy and safe at Hodag Country Festival, so remember to drink plenty of water and ensure that you have plenty of sunscreen. Bug spray is also recommended for this event in the woods. There will be qualified first aiders on site to help in an accident, with four different hospitals or medical centers in or around the area of Rhinelander.