Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid festival, which was livestreamed during the pandemic, will return live onstage at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Conn., on Sept. 25, the organization announced Tuesday (July 20). Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday.
This year’s all-star lineup of Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Bettye LaVette, Jamey Johnson, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Allison Russell, Particle Kid and Ian Mellencamp will be joined by Farm Aid board members Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews (for an acoustic set with Tim Reynolds) and Margo Price, who was named to the Farm Aid board in April.
“The experience of the past 18 months has reminded us how much we need each other,” Nelson says in a statement. “I’m so glad that music is bringing us all back together at Farm Aid 2021 to celebrate family farmers. When we combine music, family farmers and good food, we have the power to grow the kind of agriculture that strengthens all of us.”
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a strong, family-farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Since 1985, with the support of artists who contribute their performances, the organization has raised more than $60 million to support programs that help family farmers thrive and expand the markets for their food.
“Live performances by artists who are passionate about agriculture and good food are the deep roots that sustain Farm Aid’s year-round work for family farmers,” says Farm Aid executive director Carolyn Mugar.
More than a concert, the Farm Aid festival is an annual gathering place for activists involved in the Good Food Movement and related concerns with the environment and social justice. Attendees in Hartford 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. Part of the Xfinity Theater site will be set aside for Homegrown Village, featuring activities to highlight issues around soil, water, energy, food and farming. Festivalgoers can hear farmers and artists educate and inspire on the FarmYard Stage and learn agrarian skills and celebrate the cultures of agriculture in the HOMEGROWN Skills tent.
Farm Aid was previously staged at Hartford’s Xfinity Theater in 2018. The choice of the venue for the festival’s live return reflects the agricultural importance of the surrounding region. According to Farm Aid, New England is home to 32,300 farms across six states ― Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — with an additional 33,438 farms in New York State.
“The Northeast is a hotbed for innovative progress in agriculture, including local and regional food systems, organic production, work to advance racial justice in agriculture, and regenerative agriculture methods of the Indigenous Americans who farmed this land first,” states Farm Aid’s announcement. “The Northeast includes some of the top states for new and beginning farmers, as well as female farmers. Challenges of farmers in this region include access to farmland and credit, fair prices, particularly in dairy, and climate change.”
Farm Aid’s Mugar says the organization is “thrilled that Hartford is welcoming Farm Aid back again after our successful 2018 event. We’re grateful to the management and staff at Xfinity Theatre for working hand-in-hand with us to ensure the safety of our artists, crew, volunteers, farmers and fans.”