The tenth annual and final Freedom Fest takes place this Saturday at UW La Crosse with John Fogerty set as the headline act. Over the last decade, Freedom Fest has focused on raising funds for veterans causes and honoring Wisconsin's fallen heroes. Fox 25/48's Erin O'Brien talked with the man behind it all, Don Weber, and has a look back on ten years of Freedom Fest.
Ten years of supporting veterans causes through music will come to an end this weekend. Freedom Fest began in 2008 in an effort to build the Veterans Hall of Honor on UW La Crosse's campus and thanks to the vision of Don Weber.
"Veterans are always the first to stand up and support one another, let's go to the veterans and see if, you know, we can ask them for their support and we started what is now Freedom Fest. "
And it's grown to have an immeasurable influence on veterans and families of fallen heroes.
"All the lives that we've touched. I don't think I ever really thought that we would have achieved this kind of success."
More than five hundred thousand dollars have been raised to support veterans and their families .. including scholarships, and a summer camp for children of fallen heroes. Which is why Weber says the decision to end freedom fest after this year was agonizing, but he cites the cost of putting it on each year as a major factor, with about three million dollars going to the entertainment alone over the last decade.
"To raise all that money and then to put into the event itself and then what is left over, it's like is that the best use? could the outcome be better if we did something differently?"
As setup begins today for this final year Weber hopes that this weekend can be a careful mix of celebration... and grief.
"These fallen heroes, they want us not to be in pain. they want us to celebrate."
In La Crosse, Erin O'Brien, Fox 25/48 News at Nine.