The 99th Freedom Rock in Iowa was completed Saturday night and revealed late Sunday afternoon. Here's a unique look at how a Freedom Rock comes together, complete with the sketches that started it all.

Bubba Sorensen painted the very first Freedom Rock in Menlo, Iowa in 1999. Each year, he repaints that rock leading up to Memorial Day Weekend. Eight years ago, Sorensen began the Freedom Rock Tour. His goal was to paint a large rock in each Iowa county to honor veterans and assist Iowa tourism. Every rock would honor veterans from the county where the rock sat.

Over the years, the committee for each rock has provided photos and the approximate size of the rock Sorensen would be painting. They also provide input on possible veterans to include on their county's rock. Sorensen then decides what/who he will paint. Most of the time the first time he saw a rock in person was when he arrived to begin painting.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when Sorensen began work on the Linn County Freedom Rock at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Central City. That work actually started before Sorensen arrived in Linn County. I remember the Freedom Rock committee huddling around me when the sketches of Bubba's plan for our rock arrived.

According to Sorensen, the Linn County Freedom Rock is the second-largest of the 99 on the Freedom Rock Tour. Only the Jones County Freedom Rock in Stone City, finished a few weeks ago, is bigger. Linn County's huge rock provided a unique opportunity. Due to its size, those depicted on the Linn County Freedom Rock are life-size, if not even a little bigger than that in some cases.

Multiple times over the last couple of weeks, I've heard people thank Bubba for painting the rocks to honor veterans and how amazing they look. Nearly every time he replied, "I'm just a painter." No, Bubba, you're much more than that. On behalf of all 99 Iowa counties and the veterans and everyone else who has been moved by your work, thank you.

Two of the people at tonight's reveal, Linn County residents Joann and Harold Annis were visiting their 99th Freedom Rock. Harold told me in their travels to see all of Iowa's Freedom Rocks they'd driven 5,000 miles. The look on his face assured me every tenth of a mile had been worth it.

If you haven't visited a Freedom Rock yet, I encourage you to take a short road trip. With one in every Iowa county, you won't have to go far. Here is a handy checklist, complete with addresses.

Sorensen has begun a Freedom Rock Tour of all 50 states. Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin all have completed rocks. Bubba will begin work on a rock in Nebraska this week.

The photo gallery below explains who is on each side of the Linn County Freedom Rock. The gallery shows you the sketch Bubba created for every side and walks you through the completion of each.

Linn County Freedom Rock: The Transformation From Boulder to Freedom Rock

The Linn County Freedom Rock is located at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Central. Ray "Bubba" Sorensen completed the rock in September of 2021, making it the 99th and final county Freedom Rock in the state of Iowa.

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