Ready to Rumble
Freedom Rock Rally returns Saturday, Muessigman to perform
After a year layoff, the Clay County Freedom Rock Rally for the Rock will return to the area Saturday with a motorcycle ride beginning near the Clay County Freedom Rock site in Everly and making stops at the Cherokee, Woodbury and O’Brien counties Freedom Rock sites before returning to Everly for a concert.
The ride will begin in front of the Backroads Biker Leather shop in downtown Everly, just a couple of blocks from the Freedom Rock site. Backroads will host the registration which begins at 11 a.m. The ride is expected to begin at approximately noon. The Ranch, a nearby restaurant, will be open to serve meals during registration. Registration is $20 per bike. Refreshments will be available at all three stopping points along the rally route.
“We try to do three rocks a year,” said Kory Newgard, a member of the Clay County Freedom Rock Committee. “I rode the route Saturday to make sure the roads are clear. I check for potholes, bumps, animals. I will ride it again Friday ahead of the rally. It’s 150 miles (round trip), and we will stop at the Freedom Rocks in Cherokee, Kingsley and Sanborn.”
Newgard expects the ride will arrive back in Everly by 6 p.m. The Ranch will be open for an evening meal and will co-sponsor a street dance with the local Freedom Rock Committee beginning at 8 p.m. Spencer native and country recording artist Casey Muessigmann will perform. Muessigmann was a participant on the third season of the NBC series “The Voice,” selected by Blake Shelton as a member of his team.
Cost for the dance is $10.
“We didn’t do one last year, but the year before we had 32 or 33 riders,” Newgard said. “I would be stoked to see 50 bikes. ... It looks like we’re going to be close to that. We can’t get enough. The more the merrier for me.”
Proceeds from the event will go to further beautification and development efforts around the rock.
“We want to put in a brick pathway yet, military flags, benches,” said Newgard, noting it’s all dependent on fundraising.
Ray “Bubba” Sorensen completed the Clay County Freedom Rock in 2015, the 27th entry in his Freedom Rock Iowa Tour. The Iowa State University graduate and artist’s project is easily visible from the street, the centerpiece of the the Garden of Peace and Hope.
The rock features four different murals, including a draped American flag, a young soldier and lady embracing against the backdrop of a folded flag, as well as tributes to a pair of area soldiers. Howard Grover Roberts, of Everly, who served with the U.S. Navy during World War II, is honored after having been reported missing and presumed dead following the attack on the USS Asheville, a small gun boat, by the Japanese. Likewise, Merlyn Hans Dethlefsen, a Greenville native and Medal of Honor recipient, who served with the Air Force during the Vietnam War, is recognized.
“It is fitting that this solid, immovable rock serves as a reminder. A reminder to the citizens of Clay County that their support to veterans and service members is enduring and unshakeable,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet said at the Clay County Freedom Rock dedication ceremony in 2015. “And to our service members and veterans, reassuring them that their service is appreciated and honored.”
The original Freedom Rock, located in Adair County — just off Interstate 80 at Exit 86 — was dug out of a nearby limestone quarry in the late 1960s. Because of its original proximity to U.S. Highway 25, it was often the target of graffiti from vandals. In 1999, Sorensen asked the quarry owners if he could paint a tribute to the military for Memorial Day. That’s how it all began. The artist is seeking to place a Freedom Rock in every county in the state.
For more information, visit the Clay County Freedom Rock and Garden of Peace and Hope page on Facebook.