The recalls dominated this year's Fighting Bob Fest North, and who can blame us?
Recall Walker fervor raised the roof repeatedly at Fighting Bob Fest North on May 19 in Chippewa Falls.
Mahlon Mitchell, among the afternoon’s notable speakers at the historic Northern Wisconsin State Fair grounds, was exceptional in his appeal calling on progressives to stir the waters and recall Walker. It was a spine-tingling message given greater emphasis by the closeness of June 5.
What an excellent spot Chippewa Falls is to host Fighting Bob Fest North, now in its third year. The Northern Wisconsin State Fair testifies to the kind of activist tradition that it will take to recall Walker.
An official marker on the grounds hints at the independent attitude which prevails in our state. The original state fair, beginning in 1851, was held in southern Wisconsin, the marker notes. “Recognizing the impracticality of entering or attending the Southern Wisconsin State Fair, Chippewa Falls area citizens drafted a charter to create the Northern Wisconsin State Fair.”
That was in 1897. “Today,” the sign says, “these fairground buildings still display the best of individual and community achievement in northern Wisconsin.”
The June 5 recall election already is a “community achievement” by its presence. The fortitude and tenacity of fair-minded Wisconsin citizens, all over the state, brought about a movement which grew immensely and changed according to need beginning in February 2011 when the governor began peeling back layers of legislation which served us well beginning approximately the time when the Northern Wisconsin State Fair was born.
Jim Dunning, an organizer with his wife Carolyn of Fighting Bob North, said the crowd was slightly smaller than hoped for probably because some people were out working on the recall campaign in their communities.
This was the second full-blown Bob Fest North, although Dunning a core group of a dozen people conducted a trial run three years ago as a music festival. That followed Ed Garvey’s idea of several years ago to multiply Fighting Bob Fests beyond the Baraboo/Madison events, Dunning said.
Planning for the 2012 fest began last November. Dunning listed workers who tackle specific planning and coordinating jobs for the fest: Steve Hanson, Kyle Hartman, Denise Haughian, Richard Haughian, Al Holle, Mary Holle, Cathy Kidd, John Kidd, Steve Rasmus, Eric Rosenquist, Sam Wegleitner, Pat Williams, and Jim Zons.
Saturday morning at Bob Fest included Garvey, who emceed, Kristen Dexter who’s running against AWOL Terry Moulton, the Greggmoorian Chanters, Dana Schultz, Bob Kincaid, and Nino Amato. Dexter is challenging incumbent GOP State Senator Moulton in the 23rd District which covers Chippewa and Eau Claire counties. Dexter was interviewed this week on Wisconsin Public Radio and forthrightly called out Moulton on his Walkeresque record. Moulton, according to WPR, failed to return calls for an interview.
Breakout sessions about frac sand mining (Jerry Lausted), The War on Women (Molly Swank), and Money in Politics (Mike McCabe) were filled with people and information. Main afternoon speakers with Mitchell were McCabe, Kathleen Vinehout, John Nichols, and Ruth Conniff. It was difficult to call which speaker inspired the most ear-splitting responses during the final session, which seemed to grow with the afternoon.
In a fashion that seems to be almost normal these days, media coverage was next to nothing. Newspapers were absent.
Dunning said the Eau Claire area public access television station was on hand to film the fest for broadcast later.
A lot of private conversations at Bob Fest were about nothing but the recall.
It’s a one-of-a-kind election. As Mike McCabe said, Walker and his others have handed a decision on Wisconsin’s future to the rest of us. Voting to recall Walker June 5 will be a thing of beauty, a joy forever, a moment to remember.
May 27, 2012
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David Giffey is a freelance journalist and FightingBob.com contributing editor who lives in Arena. He is the author of "Long Shadows: Veterans’ Paths to Peace" (Atwood Publishing), "Struggle for Justice: The Migrant Farm Worker Labor Movement in Wisconsin," and "The People’s Stories of South Madison."