There were a lot of great concerts across the United States this past weekend, but it’s possible that none were as highly anticipated and certainly more important than this year’s Farm Aid music and food festival.
In its 31st year, Farm Aid welcomed 20,000 fans to the Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia. And while a day’s worth of music and local farm-to-table concessions is the big attraction, it isn’t lost on anyone that the event is held to support the American farming community. Of course, one of the greatest supporters of this country’s farmers is the 83-year-old Farm Aid president Willie Nelson. And he’s also the greatest draw.
Of course, Willie didn’t do it alone. He was joined by the organizations co-founders, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, and a full line up of performers including Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss and Sturgill Simpson, along with John’s nephew, Ian Mellencamp, and Willie’s son’s band, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, and Insects vs. Roberts.
Country newcomer Margo Price, who released her debut album, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” earlier this year, was also part of the line up and the event marked a bittersweet anniversary for her, as well as a personal reason to be involved. From the stage she shared, “Farm-Aid started in 1985. That happened to be the same year that my folks lost their farm.”
As serious as the cause is, Willie closed out the show with a mostly raucous set of foot-stomping singalongs, a tribute to his pal Merle Haggard, and classics performed as only Willie can do.
Since its inception, Farm Aid has raised more than $50 million to help family farmers. While no date or line up has been announced for next year’s event, Willie says, “We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s clear we aren’t done yet. Family farmers still aren’t getting a fair shake. We need to keep coming together to help each other and find solutions.”