Free Congregation Celebrates 167th Painesfest on January 20 Every January since 1853 the Free Congregation of Sauk County has celebrated the birthday of American patriot Thomas Paine and his contributions to the founding of the United States of America and to the worldwide campaign for individual human rights and freedoms. He was a major influence behind the Declaration of Independence and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, women’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and even an early form of social security, all of which took a century or more to come to pass. Author of Common Sense, The Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason, Paine made his greatest contribution to the Revolution with a series of pamphlets titled “The American Crisis”, the first of which was published in 1776 and begins with the famous words, “These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” On Sunday morning, January 20, the Free Congregation will host its 167th Painesfest celebration. The program will begin at 10:05 a.m. at Park Hall, 307 Polk Street, in Sauk City. For this special occasion our guest speaker will be Kriss Marion, who recently ran for the Wisconsin State Senate from the 17th District. Kriss will share her views on the state of democracy, Wisconsin’s rural communities, and the changing electoral playing field, especially for women — both in Wisconsin and nationally. Kriss describes herself as “a farmer, business owner, entrepreneur, and parent.” She and her husband Shannon live with their four children in Blanchardville, where she runs Circle M Market Farm, an organic food operation and an award-winning bed and breakfast. As a supervisor on the Lafayette County Board of supervisors, Kriss co-sponsored an initiative that, after a long struggle in the courts and an attempted block by the state assembly, allows home bakers to sell their products without a food processing plant license. As with all of the Free Congregation’s holidays over the last 167 years, the entire Painesfest celebration is free and open to the public. If you’d like to join us in our downstairs community hall for the potluck that follows the program, please consider bringing a dish to pass.