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Fighting Bob Fest: The Largest Annual Political Festival in the Nation

PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be the keynote speaker at this year's Fighting Bob Fest at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Progressive Voters of America
PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be the keynote speaker at this year's Fighting Bob Fest at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Progressive Voters of America
September 11, 2014

BARABOO, Wis. – The 13th annual Fighting Bob Fest, called the largest annual political festival in the nation, will be this Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo.

The festival is named for iconic Wisconsin political leader Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette.

Dave Zweifel, editor emeritus of The Capital Times newspaper and one of the speakers, says Fighting Bob would not be a happy man if he were alive to address the gathering.

"He would certainly be bemoaning the influence of money and the influence of the special interests on the political system, which was something that he fought against for five decades in Wisconsin politics,” Zweifel notes. “It was exactly what he was warning about – who was going to lead this country: wealth and the privileged few, or the people."

Zweifel points out one of the main themes this year will be the pervasive influence of money in politics.

The keynote speaker is U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Other speakers include Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

According to Zweifel, the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which said in essence corporations are people and money is speech, must be overturned.

"I think there's a possibility it will be but it's going to take a long, long time,” Zweifel says. “I think the best bet is a Constitutional amendment and we know how long that takes.

“It could be at least 10 years. I think the people of the country are quite upset with the fallout of Citizens United."

The festival, which started as a small grassroots gathering a dozen years ago, has grown into a huge annual event.

Zweifel says one of the reasons for the continued growth is the quality of national speakers the event has been able to attract.

"More importantly, I think it's a lot of fun,” he adds. “We have music, we have a beer tent, we have places for people to congregate and talk about issues among themselves. It brings a lot of like-minded people, you may say, together."


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI