A celebration of those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom filled the air at Veterans Memorial Sports Complex at UW-La Crosse on Saturday.
The fest honors 175 families who have lost a loved one serving with the military in conflicts following 9/11.
As part of the opening ceremony, colors were presented, and later in the show a tribute was shown to honor five local service members wounded in action.
But ther ceremony is not the only way our fallen service members were remembered Saturday. They were also the focus of the Freedom Fest Motorcycle rally.
About 200 bikers revved their engines and took to the streets Saturday morning as part of the rally.
And while it was a good time for bikers to enjoy the scenery of the Coulee Region, the focus was on our service members.
One Wisconsin family, the Gassens, who lost their son in Afghanistan when he was deployed with the Army two and a half years ago, traveled from Beaver Dam for the event.
"That day he was killed, there were six that were killed, five others that were with him. They were killed by an Afghan border patrol officer who turned his gun on them in a training mission," said Greg Gassen, the father of Jake Gassen, who was killed in Afghanistan.
They say there is no limit to their grief, but the rally gives them the chance to celebrate their son's life.
"We'll always grieve Jake's death, but I realize I need to go forward and celebrate his life also because I know that's what he'd want me to do," said Gassen. "We have a lot of pride in Jacob knowing he was doing what he really liked doing when he died."
The bikers put in about 100 miles on their ride.
Freedom Fest brought in quite the line-up of performances.
A local favorite, the Remainders, played. Chris Daughtry hit the stage and the band Chicago wrapped up the evening.
All of the proceeds from ticket and food sales goes to support veterans' causes. In the past five years, this event has raised $400,000.