Thousands of visitors to the area, along with area residents, come to Chetek’s Liberty Fest each year.
The Chetek Alert went out during the festivities and asked people why they came to Chetek and what was their favorite event of Liberty Fest, held July 3–7.
It was the first Liberty Fest for Mitch Schultz, of Pine Island, Minn., and group of seven family members. They had come for the lakes and learned that Liberty Fest was going on. They were at the Masonic Breakfast on July 4 and were looking forward to the parade, fireworks, swimming in the lake and fishing.
Kim Lesmeister, of Elk Mound, comes for the parade, and had been for more than ten years. Her daughter, Natalie, liked the candy, especially Nerds, from the floats. “I like the part with the princesses,” Natalie said about the visiting town royalty floats.
Also at the parade were Catherine and Phil Hoover, from South Carolina. They spend 10 days back in the area to visit family.
Sandy Anderson, from Sand Creek, her son, Aaron Anderson, and her grandson Dane Anderson, both from Illinois, were at the parade. It was Dane’s first Liberty Fest, Aaron said, adding they enjoy the Fishy Four, the Hydroflites water ski shows and going to see Sandy’s booth in the craft fair. But the parade is their favorite event.
Brandy Zielie, from Chetek, has been to each Liberty Fest for the past 10 years. Her kids come for the candy, she said. While not an event this year, they miss the block party held down town.
Born and raised in Chetek, Mel Newman has been to every Liberty Fest. “Haven’t missed a one,” he said. He always watches the parade and this year, around 50 family members were there with him. After 45 Liberty Fests, Newman said his best tip is to drink water and find a nice shady spot to sit.
Jason and Karrie Dehnke, and their kids Brittney and Brady, of Eau Claire, were at the parade, which was their favorite event. Brittney and Brady’s grandfather used to drive one of the Shriners’ Tin Lizzie cars for around twenty years.
Julie Pierson, of Chetek, said she has been coming to Liberty Fest since she was an infant. Her favorite was the carnival which was held in the parking lot downtown.
Members of the Hoeft family had counted around 25 Liberty Fests. It was a family tradition and they enjoyed the parade the most, they said. They have been in it too, as a band.
Dean Hontz, of Chetek, was at the Beach Party. He’s been coming to Liberty Fest for 20 years and enjoys the music and the beer garden. It’s always a good time, he said.
It was the first Liberty Fest for Vanessa Chestnut, of Marathon City. “It’s fun,” she said at the Beach Party.
Kaejan and Geordy Pederson, of Bloomer, and Beau and Kourtney Hebert, of Plainview, Minn., said all their kids were having fun at the parade and beach party. They had come 11 times.
Stephanie Toufar, Jessica Paul and Michelle Eschler said there was fun to be had with the music and beer at the Beach Party. The friends had been attending for 20 years. “It’s a great family-fun event,” Eschler said.
Pat Rauschnot, who splits her time between the Back of the Moon Campground and Florida in the winter, was watching the fireworks on July 4 with her family. She had come up to Chetek for family vacation and the fishing. It was her third time visiting Liberty Fest and she loved the fireworks and Hydroflites shows.
Jeff Karnitz, of Eau Claire, and his father, Ron Karnitz, of Barron, were showing their replica 1964 Shelby Cobra cars. It was Jeff’s first time coming, but it was Ron’s 20th car show.
“Love the car show. We’ve been coming here for years,” said Randy Marlett, with his wife, Sandie, of Menomonie. The couple have been to around a dozen Liberty Fests.
Bonnie Baker, of New Auburn, was with family at the car show. It was their favorite event and a tradition. They were at 17 or 18 years attending Liberty Fest, and counting.
Friends Tim M. and Butch R., of Bloomer, have been coming for around 10 years. They liked the music truck and the General Lee car.
At the craft fair, Judy Bishop, of Chetek, said she had been coming to Liberty Fest since 1996. She loved the fireworks.
Susan Block, of Royalton, Minn., has been to all 45 Liberty Fests, attending since she was young. She loved the Hydroflites shows. Block’s children, Nick and Emily, loved the fireworks and seeing the boats on the water. Like their mom, they had been to Liberty Fest since they were young.
Julie Hoffman, of Rolling Stone, Minn., had bought lawn decorations at the craft fair. She was camping and visiting relatives and it was her first time at Liberty Fest. She loved the fireworks, she said.
Tammy Pichler, of Bloomer, comes for the local vendors at the craft fair With her was Montana Mattieson and Becky Rihn, also of Bloomer. Matieson liked the craft fair and Rihn liked the parade best.
The car show, craft fair and fireworks were favorites of Bill and Jill Hanson, of Winona, Minn. Jill said the Elvis show on July 5 was a great addition, and she loved the songs “Hound Dog” and “Love Me Tender.”
Neighbor to the Hansons’ cabin on Prairie Lake was Paula Hritz, of St. Charles, Minn. She had been coming to the craft fair for 30 years, she said.
Kevin Ahrens, of Chetek, was at the Kids’ Activities with his children, Harper, Landon and Sidney. Attending for 14 years, “It’s always a blast,” he said.