Willie Nelson’s annual Farm Aid festival, taking place Sept. 24 in Raleigh, N.C. and focusing on climate resilient agriculture, will feature Chris Stapleton and Sheryl Crow, along with Farm Aid board members Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Margo Price. Additional acts at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek will include Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Allison Russell, Charley Crockett, Brittney Spencer and Particle Kid.
Absent from the festival stage for the second consecutive year will be Farm Aid board member Neil Young, who recently responded to a fan’s letter on his website, stating: “I will not be at Farmaid this year. I am not ready for that yet. I don’t think it is safe in the pandemic. I miss it very much.” Young cited COVID-19 concerns in sitting out the 2021 festival in Hartford, Conn.. In 2020, Farm Aid was presented online.
Although Farm Aid had no further comment on Young’s decision, he was not included in the lineup revealed today (July 26). The organization notes it is “staying up to date on the latest CDC guidance and industry best practices to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Farm Aid is taking various precautions, including enhanced sanitation protocols and streamlined operations to prevent unnecessary crowding. Farm Aid will monitor the situation closely and will update protocols as warranted leading up to the festival.”
Farm Aid tickets will go on sale to the public on Saturday, July 30, at 10 a.m. ET, at LiveNation.com. A limited number of pre-sale tickets will be available beginning at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 27, at www.farmaid.org/tickets.
Event updates will be posted on Twitter (@FarmAid), Facebook (facebook.com/farmaid) and Instagram (instagram.com/farmaid), and at farmaid.org/festival. The organization is promoting use of the hashtags #FarmAid2022 and #Road2FarmAid on social media.
The festival’s return to the Raleigh amphitheater, where it previously was staged in 2014, “will showcase how farmers are leading the way to mitigate climate change by sharing their stories on the Farm Aid stage and throughout the event,” the organization announced.
“I’ve always said that family farmers strengthen us all,” said Nelson in a statement. “Farmers in North Carolina, across the Southeast, and all over the country are growing solutions to our toughest challenges, including climate change. We’re bringing Farm Aid here to highlight their hard work and celebrate the ways we can all join farmers to help.”
In a singular example of a musician’s commitment to a cause, Nelson has maintained his focus on supporting America’s family farmers across four decades, since launching Farm Aid in 1985.
Since 1985, with the support of artists who contribute their performances, the organization has raised more than $64 million to support programs that help family farmers thrive. Farm Aid year-round takes action to shift the nation away from industrial agriculture and to expand the markets for food from family farms.
Aside from its hours of great music, Farm Aid is an annual gathering place for activists involved in the Good Food Movement and related concerns with social justice and the environment. Attendees will have access to Homegrown Concessions, Farm Aid’s trademarked menu of food produced by family farmers, using ecological practices, with a fair price paid to the farmers. A portion of the Walnut Creek amphitheater site will be set aside for Homegrown Village, featuring activities to highlight issues around soil, water, energy, food and farming.
Farm Aid is well positioned to highlight the importance of farming to its host state of North Carolina. The organization notes that agriculture generates $92.7 billion annually and employs 17.5% of the state’s workforce (more than 700,000 jobs). It is home to 41,500 farms and farmland makes up more than 8.3 million acres of the state, with direct to consumer sales “creating the foundation for a vibrant local food system,” according to Farm Aid’s festival announcement.
And yet, the announcement continues, “across the state, climate change has a considerable impact — especially on communities of color, rural communities and those working in agriculture. North Carolina farmers are implementing techniques to mitigate climate change, including planting crops to cover soil between growing seasons, rotating crops, reducing soil tillage, integrating livestock and crop production, raising pastured livestock, and improving soil and water management.”
For the second consecutive year, the country lifestyle network Circle — a partnership of Gray Television and the Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. — will be the exclusive broadcast partner of Farm Aid, and will also carry coverage on its Facebook, Twitter and TikTok pages. The festival also will air live on FarmAid.org and the organization’s YouTube channel. Farm Aid’s sponsors this year include Patagonia Workwear and DISH Network.
“Everywhere we go, we hear from festival-goers that there’s nothing quite like the Farm Aid experience,” Farm Aid executive director Carolyn Mugar says in a statement. “Farmers and eaters are inspired and empowered at the intersection of music and family farm food to support the source of our food — family famers — and to join farmers in fighting for our soil and water. We will celebrate the family farmers of the Southeast and amplify their voices on the Farm Aid stage in September.”