Every year, the town I live in hosts a really big country music festival called "The Hodag Country Festival". Located in the northwoods of Wisconsin, us locals refer to it as "Country Fest" or "Hodag", and it takes place the during the second weekend of July, annually. Many great acts have taken the stage of Hodag, like Kenny Rogers
, Freddy Fender
, Garth Brooks
, Tammy Wynette
, George Strait
, and Martina McBride
, just to name a few.
Beginning in 1978, the Hodag Country Festival has become one of the nation's biggest festivals of it's kind. I've lived here my whole life, and started attending the festival back in 2001, when I won a free ticket in a karaoke contest. Don't laugh. Karaoke is awesome :-P
Well, this year I had the pleasure of attending the 32nd Annual Hodag Country Fest, and needless to say, it was the highlight of 2009 for me. Here it is in pictures:
Sunset Friday night over the festival grounds in Rhinelander, WI, U.S.A. This was taken during Miranda Lambert's performance. You can see the lights from the drink and food stands, and festival goers with their lawn chairs.Glen Campbell
playing "William Tell Overture" OVER his head. He really impressed me. He was reaching down, touching the hands of the fans, and I was one of them!! Yup, I got to touch Glen Campbell's hand ^_^Darryl Worley
. Not his first time at Hodag, he's a return performer. The first year I saw him, he was doing the "meet and greet" thing with the fans before he performed. I had this neon yellow lei that I wanted to give him, and he let me put it on him. He wore it during his performance, and it showed up sooo bright on the jumbo screen. I was like, "See that bright yellow thing around his neck? I gave that to him!!". It's always great to see him. You never forget the first celebrity that you "lei" ;-)Miranda Lambert
. Folks, if she comes to a town near you, go see her!! She is a fantastic live performer, and extremely down-to-earth. She said she went to Wal-Mart. I bet she caused a ruckus there!!Sawyer Brown
. That singer was just a dancing machine!! He was spinning around like he was Gene Kelly, or something. Really great performers, I recommend seeing them too if you get a chance. When I took this pic, they were playing "Betty's Bein' Bad".Jamey Johnson
. I love his song "In Color", so I was excited to see him. I never realized how much he looked like Rob Zombie, he does. It's so weird to think you're looking at Rob Zombie with a beautiful countrified voice coming out of his mouth.Zac Brown Band
. They were great as well. They closed with their song "Chicken Fried", and many people were teary-eyed when the singer shared the story of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. There was a picture of the soldier on his guitar, and he said he would play that guitar till it played no more. It was touching.Merle Haggard
. "The Hag", looking like the outlaw that he is. I'll forever remember this performance, and it goes down as one of my favorites. He said "Okie From Muskogee" was his last song, and when he finished, he said, "Wait, wait. I gotta do one for all the convicts out there." He then sang "Sing Me Back Home". Yes. For all the convicts out there, haha. He's funny.
A faaaaaar away picture of Neal McCoy
. When Neal first made it big, he came to Hodag. He loved it so much here that he wanted to come back every year. I think he said he's been coming for almost 20 years or so. If you can see those pink and white things that people are holding in the pic, those things are blown-up breeders gloves. During Neal's performance, the crowd waves them in the air, and they do that only for Neal, cuz he's special ;-) A DVD was released in 2006, called "Neal McCoy" LIVE!", and it is the concert of his performance at the 2005 Hodag Country Festival.
I'm not sure if he crawled under there to pass out, or if he passed out and they parked the truck over him. The latter sounds rather dangerous, but ya never know. Either way, it's classic Hodag.
Other artists that performed in '09 at Hodag included: Blake Shelton
, Phil Vassar
, John Conlee
, Julianne Hough
, Eric Church
, Heidi Newfield
, Billy Ray Cyrus
, and SHeDAISY
If you would like to learn more, here is the link for the official website of the Hodag Country Festival: http://www.hodag.com/
And in case you were wondering, "What is a hodag?" The answer is, "A really ugly mythical beast that eats white bulldogs on Sundays." Here is our Hodag located at the Chamber of Commerce in good ol' Rhinelander, WI.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you never attended, and would like to, please let me know at least 2 weeks in advance so I can make you a not so discreet "Hodag Virgin" sign to wear ;-)