Hodags go up for auction this week
The four fanciful Hodags that have been on display in downtown Rhinelander since May are headed to the auction block Saturday evening, Nov. 12, in a fundraiser for Downtown Rhinelander Inc., a nonprofit civic improvement group.
Kathy Brich, chair of the Hodags on Parade Volunteer Planning Committee, said tickets can still be purchased for the annual Hodags On Parade Auction, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Northwoods Banquet Center of Pueblo Drive in Rhinelander.
Tickets for the auction of the Hodags are $15 each, and include hors d’oeuvres provided by several area eateries in a “Taste of Rhinelander” format, and a drink ticket for a beer or glass of wine. There will also be a cash bar during the auction. Dress for the event is casual.
“The first four Hodags are going to a live auction with auctioneer Dave Havel, and then the last one is going to be raffled off,” Brich said. “We’ve been selling raffle tickets for months, and will continue to furiously sell them right up until the raffle. Someone out there is going to win a pretty unique prize.”
The Hodags On Parade program has grown steadily since its beginning more than four years ago. Last year’s auction netted the organization between $15,000 and $18,000 in profit, with the top selling Hodag going to Rhinelander GM for a whopping $5,000.
“It’s so great to see these area businesses show support for both the Hodag and what we’re doing downtown,” said Brich. “People visiting the area get so excited seeing the Hodags around the downtown during the summer, and that excitement has carried right into fall with the auctions.”
The artist-decorated fiberglass Hodags will be auctioned at a minimum bid of $1,000 and no maximum bid, she said. Downtown Rhinelander wants to make at least $20,000 from this year’s Hodag auction and raffle, she said.
“The talk around town is that there is a lot of interest in bidding on our four Hodags up for auction,” said Brich. “We’d love to see a few bidding wars.”
The smiling Hodag decorated by artists was designed by central Wisconsin sculptor Dave Oswald. “These are all original works of art done by different artists from all over the Northwoods,” Brich said.
This year’s auction Hodags include the patriotic “Uncle Sam Hodag”, embellished by artist Connie Friesen; the air travel-themed “Flying Hodag” from artist Linda Gilbert-Ferzacca; the historic “Hodag It Happen?” painted by NCSS graduate Maggy Klaver and current student Abbie Botkins; and the Green Bay Packer-themed “Cheese-dag” painted by Ryan Patrick Priebe. The Hodag to be raffled carries a “traditional” Hodag look, including green skin and fiery red eyes. Titled “I’m a Hodag,” it was painted by Gilbert-Ferzacca.
The Hodags On Parade project has exceeded the group’s expectations, said Brich.
“We’ve had so much community support that, despite the sluggish economy, there has been a huge amount of interest in our Hodags year after year,” Brich said. “It’s been a tremendous project to bring interest downtown, and much needed funding to the organization.”
While the program continues to be a success for the organization, Brich said the committee is already talking about potential changes that would bring additional excitement to the program. Those changes could possibly mean crafting smaller Hodag sculptures and offering more for purchase next year, or offering sponsors the chance to pre-purchase and choose the design of their sculptures.
“We’ve done between five and seven Hodags for three years now,” she said. “There is still a lot of excitement, but we want to try to reach new people with this program.”
The idea to raffle one of the Hodags was new this year. The committee decided to raffle the sculpture in late June, giving them just enough time to bring the Hodag out to the Hodag Country Fest in mid-July. Not only was the sculpture a great conversation piece amongst the rowdy Hodag Fest crowd, it also drummed up support, and ticket sales, for the program.
“We had a great time out at the Country Fest, and a lot of people bought raffle tickets for the Hodag,” said Brich. “We talked to a lot of people that were from out of state that said the sculpture was too big to get it back to their home, too. It’s important that those people know that if they can’t get their Hodag home, we have plenty of “foster homes” that would love to have a Hodag.”
Brich pointed out that they’ve had a lot of interest in the program from area schools and municipal organizations that would be happy to display a Hodag. “We’re really looking forward to a great time, and to sending some of these great Hodags to their new homes,” said Brich.
Editor’s note: The Nov. 12 auction will feature live music from Jim St. Charles, jewelry and 50-50 raffles, various gift basket raffles and a chance to meet the artists and view the Hodags. The early group discount is $100 for table of eight. Tickets for $15 apiece will also be sold at the door. Raffle tickets for the fifth Hodag cost $5 each or 3 for $10, and are available at the Rhinelander Cafè & Pub, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce and Trig’s. You need not be present at the auction to win. For more information, or to obtain an absentee bid form, call (715) 362-7374.