Willie Nelson’s Fight for Family Farmers #Road2Farm Aid

by: Jennifer Fahey

Farm Aid, the annual benefit concert for America’s family farmers, will be staged for its 32nd year on Sept. 16 at the KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown, Pa., outside Pittsburgh, with performances by the organization’s guiding foursome—Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews—along with Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Margo Price and more.  

The concert, quite simply, is quite unlike any other musical festival in the nation today.  Created by Willie Nelson in 1985 as a one-off event to respond to that era’s farm foreclosure crisis, Farm Aid has become music’s longest-running concert for a cause and has since raised $50 million for family farmers—including those whose livelihoods are threatened by this year’s hurricanes.  

What fans may not realize is that Farm Aid, as an organization, runs year-round, not only in planning for each year’s show, but in carrying out its mission of building a vibrant, family-farm-centered system of agriculture in America. With festival attendees using the hashtags #FarmAid2017 and #Road2FarmAid on social media in advance of this year’s concert, Billboard invited Farm Aid communications director Jennifer Fahy, who has been with the organization since 2002, to describe the months that followed Nelson’s final song onstage the 31st annual Farm Aid in Bristow, Va. in September 2016:

Farm Aid’s small event series “An Evening with Farm Aid” headed to McKinney, Texas, 35 miles north of Dallas, to celebrate good food, family farmers and live music.  The small events seek to bring the message and experience of the annual Farm Aid festival to new audiences. The intimate festivities in McKinney included a cocktail hour in a barn that housed a museum of antique farm equipment; a farm-to-table dinner in a field; remarks by farmers who provided the food for the delicious dinner; and a performance by Texas-native and Farm Aid supporter Kacey Musgraves. With her full band in their trademark country attire, the stars were shining on stage and above, as many in the crowd moved to the dance floor for the Texas two-step.

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