Winneshiek County's Freedom Rock is part of the Freedom Rock Tour created by the artist, Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II. In creating the Freedom Rock, Sorensen's aim is to "boost tourism and spread the message of thanking our Veterans while providing a unique Freedom Rock of all 99 counties in the great state of Iowa.
Winneshiek County's unique addition to the Freedom Rock Tour highlights Winneshiek County's Native American heritage and features Chief Winneshiek of the Winnebago Tribe.
The City of Calmar served as the driving force behind this unique project. The City of Calmar submitted its application in 2013 and received notice in 2014 that it had been selected as the official Winneshiek County Freedom Rock site. The City of Calmar also donated the site and served as the fiscal agent. In addition to the celebrating Winneshiek County's Native America Heritage, the Freedom Rock is a tribute to those who protect and serve: branches of the military, firefighters, emergency medical providers and law enforcement personnel.
Bubba Sorensen painted the Rock in November of 2016 with final touch-ups and sealing completed in the Spring of 2017.
After an 18-month search, the perfect rock was located in Winthrop, Iowa and donated by James Gallery. The Rock was delivered to the site by Wiltgen Construction in April of 2015, where it was prepared for painting by Reicks Memorial & Landscaping.
This project is a success because of the participation and in-kind support received from many local businesses and individuals. The overall design and landscape plan was provided by Sara Neuzil Landscaping, site planning by Midwest Geographical, HRS Surveying, concrete provided by Croell Redi Mix, concrete installation by Albertson Construction and final landscaping and seeding by GrassMasters.
All ages participated in different phrases of the project. Calmar Lutheran Youth showed their support by helping with the installation of plantings and landscape bark. Heying Lumber provided fencing and Decorah Rental assisted with providing equipment to complete the final touches of the site.
Even before the rock had been painted, the site became a focal point for local community celebrations and observances. Local Veterans Organizations used it as part of the 2016 Memorial Day Observance. Many visitors to the community stopped by to take photos, view the rock and to take a moment to pay their respect to those who protect and serve.
Special acknowledgement to the Mayors, City Council Members, City Clerk and City Employees who served the City of Calmar, without their efforts and support this project would not have been possible.
The Winneshiek County Community Foundation who provided a major gift to help defray the cost associated with the installation of the concrete and landscaping.
Depot Outlet, Inc. for their contributions of 11 flag poles, flags, and lighting.
Donors (Gifts of $500 or more)
- American Legion Auxiliary #266
- Black Hills Energy
- Calmar Lions Club
- Decorah Bank & Trust
- Bob & Michele Elsbernd
- Ray & Donna Elsbernd
- Farmers Union Cooperative
- Leonard Fencl
- Charles Frana & Ronald Bullerman Families
- Martin/Hattie Frana Family
- Merle & Darlene Hageman & Family
- Ernest & Kay Heying
- MiEnergy Cooperative
- Perry Novak Electric
- Rockwell Collins
- South Winneshiek Insurance
- State Bank
- Whiskey Grove Bar & Grill
- Don & Julie Wurtzel
- Bench Donors
- Calmar Fire Department
- City of Calmar – Jerry Balk Memorial
- City of Calmar – Joe McCasland Memorial
- John & Dolores Meyer
- Pete & Alma Meyer Family
- Pete Styve Memorial