Announcing the 50th Annual WSS Hodag Hunt Festival September 5-7, 2014

Post date: Aug 15, 2014 4:31:05 PM

Announcing the 50th Annual WSS Hodag Hunt Festival

September 5-7, 2014

We are happy to announce the 50th annual Wisconsin Speleological Society (WSS) Hodag Hunt Festival is scheduled and we are set for yet another fun and adventurous caving celebration weekend. This year’s event has some very special significance to us in that it is our 50th Hodag annual outing. It is also unique in that for the first time ever it is being held at Cave of the Mounds. Cave of the Mounds happens to be one of the most spectacular Show Caves in the Midwest and is also officially and appropriately recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Government. It is also a historic celebration for Cave of the Mounds.

They are proudly celebrating this year the 75th anniversary of the cave’s discovery. Cave of the Mounds is easy to get to and really close to metropolitan areas, located in southwest Wisconsin, just 20 minutes west of Madison, off U.S. Highways 18/151. For more exciting informational details on Cave of the Mounds and directions to get to it, see their official website at ( The WSS Hodag Hunt Festival is a yearly weekend caving jubilee for cavers from Wisconsin and the surrounding states. It is a great time to get together for exploring caves during the day, later reconnecting and relaxing with fellow cavers, and above all, having lots of social fun and camaraderie. You do not have to be a WSS member or be affiliated with any other caving grotto to attend. Everyone is welcome! We do encourage new attendees to join the WSS if they are interested.

At a minimum for caving equipment needs, a protective hard helmet and hands-free lights of some sort are a must. Hiking boots, protective clothing, and knee pads are highly recommended for any of the Hodag caving trips. You will want to bring a camera, too, as there will be spectacular photo opportunities and memorable moments that you will want to capture for a lifetime during the whole weekend of the 50th Hodag Hunt Festival celebration. Please note we do have two very important equipment requirements for everyone who is going into the caves during the Hodag Hunt: 1) Everyone needs to have clean caving equipment to protect against the spread of the devastating White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). See the WSS website information at ( for the latest updates on WNS. The link also provides the latest decontamination protocols from the US Fish and Wildlife Service for your caving gear; and 2) No one may use caving equipment and clothing in Wisconsin caves that has been in caves outside of Wisconsin per Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations. A decontamination station will be provided by the WSS for the outing to keep your equipment clean.

Hodag Fun: The WSS uses the Hodag Hunt Festival weekend as a caving social gathering and uses the funds raised at the Hodag auction to support its various caving activities throughout the year. Please do bring items for the auction and some extra money for the great buys and interesting finds you will see at the auction. The weekend will be full of great wild caving trips to some of the more popular undeveloped caves in the area. Cave of the Mounds is also giving the Hodag attendees a special discounted group caving trip. Other Show Caves in southern Wisconsin are also an easy driving distance away.

Camping: Camping this year for the WSS Hodag Festival is at Brigham County Park. Brigham Park is a 112-acre park located just northeast of the Village of Blue Mounds on County Highway F. It is named after Ebenezer Brigham, one of the first white settlers in this area. The park provides a panoramic view of the Wisconsin River Valley. Park features include a group camp site area, a 25 unit rustic campground, two shelter facilities, picnic area, play equipment, and a self-guided nature trail through a maple woods. It is just a 1-mile easy drive from Cave of the Mounds. Information and directions to Brigham Park can be found at their official website The WSS has reserved the large group site camp at Brigham Park seen below for those who will be camping out in tents. The site is all wooded with plenty of shade and room for lots of tents. The group camping site fees will be paid to the WSS at a minimal $5/person/night for those staying at the group campsite. Individual sites for tent campers, trailers, camping RVs or those who want a little more privacy can be reserved for the weekend through the Brigham Park website above. Fees for the individual sites are $15 per night plus a $10 reservation fee. Restroom facilities and water are available for campers at Brigham Park. Special notice – Brigham Park no longer allows firewood that originates outside of Dane County to be brought into the park. Firewood may be purchased at the park for $5/bundle. Full shower facilities are available at close by Blue Mounds State Park for a $5 hourly vehicle pass to the State Park. The State Park is also a camping alternative site for Hodag Festival, but you will need a Wisconsin Park sticker to stay there. It is just a 2.5 mile distance from Cave of the Mounds. For more information and directions to Blue Mounds State Park, see their official website at ( Hodag Wild Caving Trips: Saturday trips will be offered from 10:00AM to 4:00 PM and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Sign-up sheets will be available after Saturday breakfast. A 9:30 welcome and trip briefing on Saturday is required for everyone to attend, if you are participating in any planned WSS trip activities. For caving trips, everyone needs to be aware of White Nose Syndrome decontamination protocol in order to participate. Decontamination info will be provided at Registration and in the Hodag Festival Guidebook.

Alternative Caving Activities: There will be plenty of alternative activities other than caving. A 20-minute drive to Madison will give you access to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Wisconsin State Capital, Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin, the Henry Vilas Zoo and countless museums, restaurants, parks, and lakes. An even shorter 10-minute drive will take you to scenic and historic Mount Horeb. Their attractions include Little Norway, Bothan Vineyards, Fisher King Winery, Deer Valley Lodge & Golf Couse, the Grumpy Troll Microbrewery Pub, Havens Petting Farm, and so much more. For those really adventurous, a one-hour drive will put you at the door step of one of the premier rock climbing locations in the Midwest, Devils Lake State Park. Also, don’t forget our fun pancake breakfast offerings on both Saturday and Sunday mornings right at Brigham Park. You just never know what multiple unique flavors of pancakes the WSS will be able to come up with this year. A brat, hotdog, burger, and pulled pork picnic-type meal on Saturday night will be served in the renovated Brigham Barn right at the Cave of the Mounds.

Cost: See separate registration form for more specific cost breakdowns. With each registration this year, participants will get a free commemorative t-shirt to celebrate the 50th WSS Hodag outing. Pre-Registration is $10 per person. On-site registration is $11 per person. There is no registration charge for children 15 and under, but separate t-shits will need to be purchased. Breakfast is $5. Brats, hotdogs, burgers, and pulled pork supper with all the fixin’s is $6 for adults, $3 for children 2-12, no charge for children under 2.

Hodag Schedule at a glance:

Ø Friday Main Arrival/Setup: Feel free to arrive any time after 3:00 PM on Friday to set up your campsite for the weekend and take in the great amenities of Brigham Park and the surrounding area.

Ø Friday Registration: Registration starts at 7:00 in evening in Brigham Park at the group campsite.

Ø Friday Lunch & Dinner: Cavers are on their own for Friday meals.

Ø Saturday Breakfast: Pancake and sausage breakfast will be provided for a nominal $5 fee in Brigham Park campsite from 7:30-9:00.

Ø Saturday Caving: Hodag trip activities start after a 9:30 welcome and mandatory trip briefing for all trip participants. Trips leave at 10:00. Everyone should be back at Brigham Park by 5:00 to get ready for the Saturday dinner.

Ø Saturday Lunch: Cavers are on their own for lunch on Saturday.

Ø Saturday Dinner: The Saturday dinner will be all you can eat brats, hotdogs, hamburgers, pulled pork with all the fixin’s, potato salad, coleslaw, chips, and beverages. Serving time is from 5:30 - 6:30 in the renovated Brigham Barn on the Cave of the Mounds grounds.

Ø Saturday WSS Auction: The WSS auction fund raiser will start around 7:00 after the Saturday Dinner. Door prizes will also be given out during the auction.

Ø Saturday Tour of Cave of the Mounds: 8:30-9:30.

Fee: Adults - $9.00, Kids (13-18) - $6.50, Kids (4-12) - $5.50

Ø Sunday Breakfast: 7:30 - 8:30 breakfast will be offered at Brigham Park by the WSS for $5.

Ø Sunday WSS Board/General Meeting: A combined WSS General and Board Meeting will be held from 9:00 - 10:00 Sunday morning at the group campsite. All are welcome to attend.

Ø Sunday Caving: There will be limited trips offered on Sunday. Caving activities start at 10:00 and should have everyone back to Brigham Park no later than 2:30. All campsites need to be vacated by 3:00, ending the WSS 50th annual Hodag activities.