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Annual peace gathering returns to Hager City

Author David Swanson speaks to a crowd at Peacestock 2012 in Hager City. This year's event will feature three acclaimed speakers, a poetry performance and ample time to speak with fellow attendees. (Photo courtesy Bill Habedank)

Red Wing's Veterans for Peace chapter will host its 11th Peacestock gathering Saturday July 13 at Windbeam Farm in Hager City. The event will feature three nationally renowned authors, including University of St. Thomas professor and 2008 U.S. Senate hopeful Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.

Nelson-Pallmeyer will discuss the economic impact of war, including his work with the Minnesota Arms Spending Alternatives Project, a nonpartisan grassroots effort to shift spending on the military to local government and social services.

"I try to approach it through the lens of problems in communities that are not being met because of budget issues," said Nelson-Pallmeyer, adding that local governments are being forced to enact austerity measures at a time when military spending has skyrocketed.

The other guest speakers will be Chicago-based peace activist Kathy Kelly and investigative journalist William Blum. There also will be a performance by Twin Cities poet Misty Rowan.

The theme for this year's Peacestock is "reconciliation and hope for the world," said Bill Habedank, event organizer and executive director of Veterans for Peace Chapter 115.

"We want to help Americans understand that war isn't the best way to solve problems," he said.

The event is "a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace," according to its website. Following a day of speeches and workshops, the evening schedule includes supper, a bonfire and jam sessions for attending musicians.

"It's a very relaxed atmosphere," Habedank said. "It's a chance to just enjoy the camaraderie and sit around a campfire."

What started as an anti-war gathering, Peacestock -- originally called Pigstock -- has since evolved to cover broader issues of peace and justice, Habedank said.

Despite tackling politically charged subjects, Veterans for Peace describes itself as a nonprofit and nonpartisan educational organization.

"We try to shy away from partisanship," said Habedank, stressing that Peacestock is about information, not politics.

The event has grown to become one of the leading peace gatherings in the region, with attendees coming from around the U.S. But Habedank said Veterans for Peace would like to see more local residents attend this year's event.

"It'll give them a chance to hear alternative viewpoints that they won't normally get in newspapers or other mainstream media," he said.

Windbeam Farm opens 5 p.m. July 12 for people to tour the grounds and set up tents and RVs. The main event begins 9 a.m. Saturday July 13.

Tickets are $30 per person, $50 for couples and $10 for students.

"But no one will be turned away if they can't afford tickets," Habedank said. "All are welcome."

If you go ...


When: Starts 9 a.m. and goes all day Saturday July 13; grounds open for camping 5 p.m. Friday July 12.

Where: Windbeam Farm, N2934 750th St., Hager City.

Cost:$30 per person, $50 for couples, $10 for students. Ticket includes supper Saturday evening.


Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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