Local Current Blog

Frebella Fest: Haley, Cactus Blossoms, more to play Victoria event aiming ‘to break the stigma around eating disorders’

The Cactus Blossoms backstage at Hazelfest, August 2018. (Darin Kamnetz for MPR)

Frebella Fest is a music festival with a meaningful focus. Formed from what was originally a camping trip to celebrate the lives of lost friends (including one to an eating disorder), the creators of Frebella have morphed their annual camping trip into an all-inclusive festival wherein all of the proceeds go towards the Emily Program Foundation.

In an e-mail, Frebella co-founder David Annis explained the festival’s genesis.

We lost two dear friends, Anna Westin from an eating disorder and Jeff Peterson, a sudden accident. Every year since, we’ve gathered to celebrate, remember, and help each other heal. These Frebella gatherings have taught us that grief and, in turn, mental wellness is a lifelong journey that affects everyone. Over the years, the connection we’ve built has provided the support we need to move forward through life’s challenges and has given us the confidence to be happy with who we are. That’s powerful. Now that we’re a little older and have some resources and kids of our own, we agreed it was time to do our best to bring this type of experience and power of connection to a greater community. The result is Frebella Fest.

With the goal of providing a safe, inclusive and all-ages music festival that highlights the reality of eating disorders, a partnership with the Emily Program Foundation (TEPF) seemed natural. Lisa Radzak, the executive director of TEPF, wrote via e-mail that Frebella Fest is an extremely important event “because eating disorders are among the most debilitating, stigmatized and misunderstood mental illnesses. Frebella Fest gives us an amazing opportunity to break the stigma around eating disorders and celebrate how healthy relationships with food and body are possible and part of the solution.

“Anna’s story is a daily motivator for our work to increase prevention and support for eating disorders,” she continued in her statement. “Eating disorders can be prevented and treated. We work to equip more people to prevent them, and to increase support for the many people suffering and seeking help. We’re so grateful that Frebella Fest is going to directly benefit our efforts.”

The fest will take place on Sept. 22 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Lions Park located in Victoria, Minn. — a southwestern suburb where the venue is just six miles from Paisley Park. There will be two stages for music featuring performances by Haley, the Cactus Blossoms, White Iron Band, We Are The Willows, Little Fevers, Colfax, and Tom Bright.  The event will be emceed by The Current’s Mark Wheat.

Activities will also take place all day long, hosted by SuNu Wellness, American Public Media’s Call to Mind, Dissonance, and the Emily Program Foundation. Food will be available for purchase from the Herbivorous Butcher, Bibuta Sushi Burrito & PokeBowl, My Burger, Tasty Twins, and Big Bell Ice Cream.