The Farm Aid Festival returned to the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh NC this past Saturday, September 24th. The annual benefit concert drew a sold-out crowd to experience a day filled with more than music. Artists, activists, and farmers joined together to provide festival attendees with a celebration of agriculture that featured food from local sustainable farmers, hands-on activities, games, and most importantly discussion around the challenges facing family farmers. Between economic hardship and the impact of climate change, things have never been tougher for small non-corporate farmers.
Farm Aid was founded in 1985 by musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp to raise money and provide resources for family farmers in the United States. It was originally thought that a single benefit concert would be sufficient, but the plight of family farmers has continued and so has the Farm Aid benefit concert, becoming an annual event.
This year’s event began with Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Margo Price, joined on stage by event organizers and local farmers to discuss the mission of Farm Aid and call for political change. Cultural impact director Michael Foley announced that Farm Aid would be travelling to Washington, D.C. in the Spring to call on Congress to enact legislation to protect small farmers.
Following the discussion, Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Margo Price shared the stage with a host of other musical artists, donating their performances to the cause. In addition to the talented board members, there were solid sets from Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and a host of others. Toward the end of the evening, Jim Irsay, the owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts appeared on stage prior to John Mellencamp performing, to hand his old friend a donation check of one million dollars. The evening culminated in a set from Willie Nelson & Family that featured an all-star encore.
Unfortunately, at the artist’s request, photography was limited, so we don’t have any images of Willie Nelson’s performance to share, but we did manage to capture tons of action. Check out our photos below…