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After years of fun and entertainment, Fuddfest comes to an end in Vilas
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Friends of Fuddfest were notified this week that the Nicholson family is pulling the plug on the summertime festival held in the town of Vilas.

In a letter to dozens of sponsors, Molly Held, who has spearheaded the event, put it on the line.

“We have been hurting financially for a few years and praying that each year would get better, but that didn’t happen,” she said.

Held explains that the family can no longer “continue this downward spiral or the financial stress that comes with it.”

Fuddfest started years ago as a birthday party for Held’s father, Dell Nicholson, and grew from family and friends until the town of Vilas grounds, pavilion and support facilities were in place.

Held said the family had investigated options other than closing down, but investors could not be found and the costs continued to rise.

“The logical answer is just to stop the planning and hold on to the good times we had,” Held said.

The festival, like many music events, was hit hard by insurance costs, which are massive and the charges for talent to put on the stage. The combination of all factors makes the event too pricey.

Fuddfest has a campground in the area of the dining and stage pavilion and motorhomes filled that area and an overflow area in a nearby field.

But despite the fun and a wide range of music in the old town hall to the pavilion stages, the costs were daunting.

“My parents will be putting the Fuddfest grounds up for sale after the new year,” Held said.

“The simple truth is that it doesn’t make any sense to keep a business going if it is failing and costing more and more money. For now we have to face reality.”

For the time being, the festival will likely be a far more simple birthday party for her father, who carries that unusual nickname, Fudd.


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William Lee Golden, with the beard, leads the Oak Ridge Boys at Fuddfest on Aug. 11, 2008.
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