The tagline of this year’s Breathe Easy Music Festival says it all: “The Grass is Greener at the Pourhouse.”
Rob Olson, a Lake Elmo father of two boys with Cystic Fibrosis, was hoping to rid his backyard of weeds—just weeks prior to hosting the second annual music festival benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation—when he accidentally destroyed his 40,000-square-foot lawn by covering it with an herbicide that kills grass, too.
The —and forced him to cancel a music festival that raised more than $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation last year.
But after media reports about the incident, an outpouring of public support has just about left Olson speechless—and resurrected the music festival with a special headliner, Bret Michaels.
The Breathe Easy Music Festival will go on this Sunday, Aug. 26 (indoors in Minneapolis) at the Pourhouse.
Tickets are still available, Olson said, but the festival is expected to sell out.
“It’s not the family event that we usually do in the summer, in fact it’s a 21+ event, but we’ll be able to make the donation (and then some) that we worked so hard for,” Olson said. “The needed research dollars will not be lost. That is what this is all about.”
A Rollercoaster Ride
So what happened?
Olson has been using a product from Fertilome that he has purchased at Dege Garden Center in Oakdale called “Weed-Out” for about five years.
In early July, Olson saw that his backyard was getting a large amount of weeds and needed some attention. That’s when he went to the garden center—and after talking with several employees—accidentally purchased grass and weed killer.
He brought the bottles home, found the mixing instructions on the outside of the label and sprayed his entire backyard and a portion of the front yard. Four days later, his grass was dead.
“After much deliberation, I decided that this incident could have easily happened to just about anyone,” Olson said. “I became angry because of the confusing labeling on the Fertilome bottle.”
Olson said he searched online for “Weed and Grass Killer” and found about 15 different products that were clearly labeled weed and grass killing products on the outside front panel.
“The Double Play bottle is almost identical to the one that is just the weed killer and unless you open the directions in the store, you could easily be confused and purchase the wrong product,” “Ok, I’m the one who applied it to the lawn, I take responsibility for that. I own it. I didn’t dig into the directions and I wasn’t skeptical of their recommendations. I had no reason to be. However, if that product said “Weed and Grass Killer” on the outside, this would not have happened. I’m certain of it. And if it did say that and I applied it EVEN WITH their advice to use it, I would be curled up in the corner crying to myself, not to the world. The message is simple: PUT ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE BOTTLE “WEED AND GRASS KILLER.”
Olson said he doesn’t put any blame on Dege Garden Center’s owner or his employees regarding this issue.
“This problem is in the labeling of the Fertilome Double Play,” Olson said. “Four of us didn’t know that product would kill my grass.”
The Grass is Greener at the Pourhouse
After hearing the story, Olson said he received a call from the promotions director at the Pourhouse who offered their venue for the entire day, at no cost.
The club gave the Breathe easy Music Festival the run of the place for the entire time, with 100% of the admission going to the event, Olson said.
Within a day or so of agreeing to have the event at The Pourhouse, Olson received a call from the Scott’s Company—a competitor to Fertilome—saying they wanted to help.
“They offered to completely restore the lawn and help me maintain it next year until August so that it would be perfect for next year’s event,” Olson said.
Scott’s Company also agreed to financially help Olson secure Bret Michaels for this year’s event.
“It’s been a crazy summer for me and I can’t deny that there’s been some sort of ‘divine intervention’ nudging me along the way to get to this point,” Olson said. “I will not take any of this for granted. I will see this entire fiasco for what it is and I will work hard to continue the fight.”
The fundraiser begins at 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26 with local artists including: The Tim Mahoney Band, the Cole Allen Band, Comedian Scott Hansen, Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, BKS the Original Best Kept Secret, Clifton Wales and Saving Starz. The music festival’s finale will feature an up close and personal acoustic performance by Bret Michaels. There will be a raffle and live auction. Volunteer opportunities are also still available.