Fundraiser honors late Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese

Former Johnson County supervisor Kurt Friese was remembered in a benefit to help support local food charities he founded: Field to Family and Slow Food Heartland. The fundraiser will include live music, food, drinks, and people.


Mason Childs

Band, Slewgrass, plays at The Englert in memory of Kurt Friese, a former Johnson County supervisor on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019.

Maddie McCarron, News Reporter

Nearly a year after Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese died unexpectedly in October 2018, Friese’s long-time friend, former Supervisor Mike Carberry, organized a fundraiser to benefit two local food charities Friese founded.

The fundraiser was filled with music and food — two of Kurt’s biggest passions, Carberry said. Proceeds will benefit both Field to Family and Slow Food Heartland.

“He loved supporting local restaurants,” Carberry said. “He wanted to go and spend money and try all these different things on the menus. He would always invite me along with him and his wife, Kim.” 

Carberry said he met Friese when they both volunteered for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2003. A strong friendship of 15 years ensued.

“Kurt got me involved in the issues with local foods,” Carberry said. “We found out we had a lot in common, including the way we saw politics and the environment.”

Carberry added that Friese was not a shy guy and would be thrilled that this event was happening. 

“He’d love it. Kurt would relish the opportunity,” he said. “This is the kind of thing he would eat up. He wishes he was here so he could grab the microphone and talk, and he would especially love that we’re bringing together some of his favorite things.”

Kurt’s wife Kim Friese agreed with Carberry, adding that Kurt would’ve put this event together himself if he could’ve.

“[Kurt] would be very excited,” she said. “I think Mike did a very good job reflecting something Kurt would’ve put on himself.”

Katie Roche, another good friend of Kurt Friese, and her band played at the benefit in his memory. 

“Kurt always seemed genuinely happy and relaxed, even though he was always working on something, connecting people and ideas together, and moving mountains in our community,” Roche said. “His demeanor is a great reminder to bring kindness and a personable attitude to all the work we do in our community.” 

Roche mentioned that getting to play at the fundraiser to carry on his legacy means a lot to her and the band. 

Mason Childs
Band, Awful Purdies, plays at The Englert in memory of Kurt Friese, a former Johnson County supervisor on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019.

“The organizations that will benefit are a living tribute to Kurt,” she said. “And we’ll be playing some of his favorite Awful Purdies songs.”

Kurt’s friends and wife hope to make this an annual event with the Fields of Family Festival. Kim Friese even added that she is looking forward to seeing the people who will come. 

“It is a really neat event and we hope to make it fit in to the field of family programming,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to getting people together to talk and share stories about Kurt and of course the wonderful music.”

She added that this event will not just recognize the longstanding history of Slow Food Heartland but will also kick off a legacy project. 

“I intend to continue Slow Food Heartland as my legacy project — not out of obligation, but out of love for the organization and Kurt’s memory,” Kim Friese said. “It is really a beginning or a rebirth of something that is really important to Kurt and me.”