Marvin Franzen is one of those Iowa farmers you can’t help but smile at when you meet him. He’s been working on the farm that’s home to Codfish Hollow in rural Maquoketa since he was a teenager. On show nights, he can be seen clad in bib overalls and a feed store hat rain, shine, or punishing heat driving a green John Deere tractor.
“Anyone who has been out there knows who Marv is,” says Sean Moeller, owner of Moeller Nights and the concert promoter who works alongside owner Tiffany Biehl to book shows at the venue.
“Everyone knows what a special guy he is. He’s just one of those magical parts of Codfish Hollow.”
For those who haven’t visited the century farm turned music venue, Franzen shuttles concert goers using a hay rack hitched to his tractor from the cow pasture that doubles as the parking lot down a giant hill to an old corn crib turned concert hall at every show.
This Sunday will be the first without Franzen since the venue opened to the public in 2009. His presence, no doubt, will be sorely missed by those who are headed there this weekend to see indie rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
On Saturday, August 12, during a set by The Artisanals, Franzen was involved in a tractor accident that broke both his arms and his pelvis. He was taken by helicopter that evening to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he’s been recovering since last week.
Biehl created a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses, and fans have so far donated more than $21,000.
As for the show this weekend, Moeller says there have been conversations about how to get people from the parking lot down to the barn but that no firm plans have yet been made.
“My guess is we won’t be running the tractor this weekend,” he says. “We’re lucky we didn’t lose him. He’s fighting to save his arm right now, and we’re just hoping for the best.”
Moeller hopes to plan a benefit at the Rust Belt in Moline in the coming months for Franzen. In the meantime, you can find the GoFundMe here.