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Northern Wisconsin country music festival given green-light … then cancels



RHINELANDER, Wis. (AP) — Two days after a country music festival in northern Wisconsin got the green light to hold four days of concerts expected to attract thousands, organizers on Thursday canceled the event.

The Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander won approval from the Oneida County public safety committee on Tuesday, overcoming opposition from the public and the county health department. But on Thursday, organizers posted on the festival’s website that in the interest of public safety the event was off.

“The possibility of having the Hodag Country Festival has created stress and division in the Rhinelander area, and we are sincerely apologetic for this,” the message said. “It was never our intent.”

The festival was slated for July 9 through July 12. About 16,000 people a day were expected for the festival, which has been held for more than 40 years. Performers scheduled to appear included Travis Tritt, Darius Rucker and Lee Greenwood.

Organizers said that Rucker and many of the same performers who planned to be at the festival this summer will be on the bill in 2021.

The announcement of the festival’s cancellation came on the same day that the Wisconsin State Fair was called off, adding to a long and growing list of cancelled events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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