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Politics & Government

Fighting Bobfest This Weekend In Three Locations

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Wisconsin News Connection is here.

MILWAUKEE - Now in its 16th year, the annual Fighting Bob Fest will hold events in three locations. There will be a kickoff event tonight in Madison, and then half-day gatherings in Milwaukee and La Crosse. Traditionally, the Fest - which has been called America's largest gathering of grassroots progressives - had been held in Baraboo.

Robert Kraig, the executive director of the Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is one of the keynote speakers, which he says also include MSNBC's Nina Turner and longtime commentator Jim Hightower. "Who has a big following, and of course also has a great sense of humor, and then a number of local speakers, talking about the big issues we need to actually run on, in order to really build progressive power here in Wisconsin and take control of state government," he explains.

The kickoff event is tonight at 7 P.M. at the Barrymore Theater in Madison. Then tomorrow the first half of the event will be at the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee starting at 10 A.M., and will continue from 4-8 P.M. at Copeland Park in La Crosse. Registration is available at fightingbobfest.org.

Although Fighting Bob La Follette championed his progressive ideas a century ago, Kraig says the message still resonates today. He says La Follette pulled the state together. "It was a very poor state at the time, but literally farmers and wage laborers and immigrant groups speaking different languages put their nickels and dimes together and created the prosperity we've seen in the 20th century in Wisconsin," he adds. "We need to do that again."

La Follette served the state as governor, and in both houses of Congress. Kraig says the move to expand the Fighting Bob Fest to three locations around the state is designed to broaden the base of participation. "We're not going to have a 21st-century progressive movement unless African-Americans, Latinos, people from the Hmong community, and Native Americans are heavily involved and in leadership," he says. "We need to really diversify in order to win power and be relevant." Kraig's speech will be about the Foxconn deal, which he says "could be the worst economic development deal in American history, and the worst economic swindle in Wisconsin history."