Country icon Willie Nelson is bringing back his mission-driven Farm Aid festival, announcing a star studded lineup and the return of fans for 2021.
After going virtual for 2020, this year’s Farm Aid will go back to a live and in-person format, set for September 25 at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut.
Leading the bill are a who’s who of rootsy stars, including Americana favorites like Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, plus country singer Jamey Johnson, soul and gospel star Bettye LaVette, Allison Russell, Particle Kid and Ian Mellencamp. They’ll be joined as always by the Farm Aid board members, who include Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews (doing an acoustic set with Tim Reynolds) and the latest member, Margo Price, who joined in April.
According to Nelson, the 2021 festival will be a milestone event.
“The experience of the past 18 months has reminded us how much we need each other,” he shares 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.”
Started in 1985, Nelson’s Farm Aid concerts are set up as fundraisers for a declining but fundamental way of American life. With a mission to build a strong, family-farm-centered system of agriculture, the event has raised $60 million dollars for the cause since its founding, helped along by artists who donate their performances.
“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.
Farm Aid was also held in Hartford back in 2018, and organizers say the return to New England highlights the importance of agriculture in the region. According to Farm Aid, more than 65,000 farms are scattered across Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.
“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,” Farm Aid says. “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.”
Tickets for the 2021 Farm Aid Festival go on sale Friday (July 23). A limited number of pre-sale tickets are available now.