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Birkie race “Super Bowl” of Hayward area

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HAYWARD, WI-- Tens of thousands of people will pour into Hayward, Wisconsin this weekend.

The American Birkebeiner brings in skiers and spectators from all across the globe. And they bring their wallets.

The Birkie comes at a time of year when Hayward could use the visitors.

"Everything from our lodging, from restaurants to retailers [...] it's described as the Super Bowl of the area," said Chris Ruckdaschel, Executive Director of the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce.

It's estimated 40,000 folks fill the streets of the small town, showing off the area to the world. Ruckdaschel said, "between the skiers and those they bring with them."

He said it's a production like no other with combined efforts from the community and volunteers. "In the wintertime, we are a winter wonderland here and we also want folks to see that."

The ski races impact, far-reaching

The Chamber member said, "some folks move here and end up working here and living here. And a lot of that is a result of being introduced to the area, by being a participant in the Birkie."

Jennifer Vobornick, owner of Hayward Main Street Gourmet Popcorn said this week is one of her biggest of the year. "We get our fresh popcorn popping, the smell going. We'll have coffee and hot cocoa going."

With temperatures predicted to be nearing the 40s. Vobornick is optimistic about the outcome. "This year should be nice. It's warm weather so it should bring families down, she said.

The 2020 Birkie is sure to bring booming business and make lasting impressions. Vobornick said, "for us with our business it's about an experience so it's fun to make those connections year after year."

Events for the Birkie start on Friday with the race on Saturday.

KBJR 6 will be live from in Hayward Friday during the 5 & 6 p.m. shows to will bring you all the fun and excitement.

Jessie Slater

Evening Anchor and Reporter

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