Freedom Rock

A freedom rock in Winterset, Iowa

The completion of the Big Lake Freedom Rock is about to become a reality.

Internationally known rock mural painter Ray “Bubba” Sorensen will be in Big Lake for about two week to put his local interpretation on the rock, which sits in Big Lake’s Lakeside Park. Sorenson will begin painting the rock on Tuesday, July 20 and plans to wrap up the project on August 2.

Sorensen has challenged himself to design and paint a military history mural on huge, magnificent boulders, for every state in the Union, said Big Lake Freedom Rock committee member Linda Paulson. Big Lake’s rock will be Minnesota’s representative piece and it will feature the painted stories of Big Lake’s veterans from each of the branches of the military.

The rock painting is Sorenson’s way of giving a very unique “thank you” to veterans everywhere, Paulson said.

Big Lake’s Freedom Rock will serve as a special canvas for Sorensen.

The rock is a 10-foot by 10-foot piece of pink granite donated by Martin Marietta, which came from the company’s quarry in Waite Park.

T.J. Potter Trucking of Becker transported the rock to Big Lake in September 2020. Landwehr Construction provided the crane that lifted the rock onto its final resting place in Lakeside Park.

The idea behind Freedom Rocks was born about 20 years ago when Iowa artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen painted a boulder near Adair, Iowa, to honor military veterans.

The idea caught on. Now all 99 counties in Iowa either have a Freedom Rock painted by Sorensen or are scheduled to get one.

Sorensen was in Waukon, Iowa, from Aug. 19-29 to paint his vision for his 92nd Freedom Rock, which was unveiled in a ceremony on Friday, Sept. 11.

With Freedom Rocks now sited in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, Sorensen embarked on his vision to have a Freedom Rock in all 50 states.

To help fund the Freedom Rock project, inscribed pavers are being sold to commemorate the veterans of Big Lake and other area communities. The Rock will tell Big Lake veteran stories, but the pavers surround the rock are donated from all over the U.S. representing veterans living and deceased, said Big Lake Freedom Rock organizer Karen Blake.

The last call to get a paver included in the display is July 15.  

“We have extended the deadline because so many are just now learning about the historic rock display and are asking how they can get involved,” Blake said. 

Call Blake 763 234-0369 or email to purchase a $100 paver and to be included in this historic display.

Mark your calendars for the dedication event from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 18, The event will include a militaty flyover at 11 a.m.

Bubba Sorensen’s work can be viewed on his website at:

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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