By Shereen Siewert

Oneida County officials will allow the annual Hodag Country Music Festival, held each July in Rhinelander, to go on – with more than two dozen safety conditions.

Festival organizers announced the decision Tuesday on the Hodag Festival Facebook page.

Most of the citizens appearing during the public comment period of the Oneida County Public Safety Committee meeting spoke out against holding the festival. Committee member Billy Fried moved to deny the permit altogether, but the motion died without a second.

Fried was the only member to vote against allowing the permit.

Ticket refunds or rollovers will be allowed for ticket holders uncomfortable attending this year’s event. Attendees will be provided masks and urged to bring their own.

Employees and volunteers will be screened for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms. Buses transporting attendees to and from parking areas will be eliminated this year and capacity will be limited.

The festival, which typically draws tens of thousands of people, runs from Thursday, July 9 through Sunday, July 12.

During the committee’s virtual meeting Dawn Eckart, an officer with the Hodag Country Festival, said the organization would take an unmanageable hit by canceling this year’s event.

Current Oneida County guidelines call for limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people. But the guidelines are just that – guidelines – not legal requirements.

As of Tuesday, Oneida County reported eight confirmed cases of COVID-19, up one from Monday’s tally. Health officials say the latest case is an adult in their 30s with no history of travel and no known contact with the disease.