County’s Freedom Rock Receives Multi-Color Coat | News, Sports, Jobs


Ray ‘Bubba’ Sorensen II – artist and creator of the Freedom Rock Project – is shown, above, with the Faribault County Freedom Rock, which was still in progress at the time the photo was taken. The front of the rock depicts Vietnam War veterans.

Apparently the right artist can convert just about anything into their canvas.

Artist Ray “Bouba”Sorensen II, for example, sees the steep surface of a rock as a blank slate teeming with opportunity.

After watching the movie “Saving Private Ryan” a few years ago, Sorensen was inspired to pay tribute to veterans. All that remained was to find his medium and his canvas.

The two eventually arrived as paint – in large quantities – and a 60-ton boulder in Greenfield, Iowa.

Sorensen’s first creation, Greenfield’s Freedom Rock, was originally painted in 1999.

However, the original Freedom Rock is still a work in progress. Every year since 1999, Sorensen has returned to Greenfield on Memorial Day to cover the face of the rock with a fresh and unique tribute to veterans.

Soon Sorensen received offers to create similar memorials in other Iowa counties.

Although Sorensen initially kept the Freedom Rock project within Iowa’s borders, its popularity led him to expand his work to counties in other states.

More recently, in the county of Faribault.

Sorensen has been stationed in a tent near the Winnebago Civic Center for the past week, working his magic on the surface of a Freedom Rock that has sat barefaced in Whiting Park for the past year .

This will be the sixth Freedom Rock Sorensen has completed in Minnesota. It will join the 100 official Freedom Rocks located throughout the state of Iowa, and many more scattered throughout the country.

Despite the growing number of Freedom Rocks in the United States, Sorensen strives to make each one original.

“Inevitably, all rocks are unique”,said Sorensen. “I try to make them unique to the region.”

Faribault County’s Freedom Rock, for example, is a tribute to area veterans. Its three-dimensional canvas provides enough surface to tell their stories.

The front side of the Faribault County Freedom Rock depicts Vietnam War veterans, all natives of Faribault County.

Meanwhile, the Other Side of the Rock recognizes a local native who joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. Sorensen believes she was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal secretary.

To its right is a depiction of a Faribault County resident who served as a tuba player in the 34th Infantry Division marching band.

“Playing music is a mental health break”Sorensen considers as he examines the man’s portrait.

Sorensen was hoping to have the Faribault County Freedom Rock completed by the end of the weekend when he was interviewed.

However, he notes, “It’s art.”

It takes time to paint a big rock, and even longer to do it right.

The Freedom Rock located in Winnebago is a project of over a year.

Colette Meidinger, a Winnebago resident and chair of the Faribault County Freedom Rock Committee, spent months organizing a fundraiser for the rock installation.

The committee raised funds throughout the summer of 2021 by hosting a shoe drive through Funds2Orgs. They collected shoes from locals, which were then sent to Funds2Orgs. The organization reimbursed the committee for the shoes they collected with funds for the chosen cause.

Meidinger explained last summer, “It’s a win-win. We get paid by the pound for the shoes, and then the shoes go to third world countries and people who open micro-businesses.

Meidinger appreciates Freedom Rock’s role as a tribute to Faribault County veterans, but she also hopes it will bring visitors to Winnebago and Faribault County.

Sorensen has seen other Freedom Rocks serve as buoys for area tourism — particularly in Iowa’s 99 counties, all of which have their own Freedom Rocks.

Beyond promoting rural tourism, however, Sorensen likes to feel that the Freedom Rocks honor the individual veterans who resided in each county.

“I haven’t served in the military, so for me, this is my way of giving back to people who have served,”he says. “There are so many stories that are forgotten. It’s important to me to honor these guys and girls.

More information about the Freedom Rock Project can be found by visiting the website: thefreedomrock.com.


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