Willie Nelson and his Farm Aid cohort drew a crowd of 30,000 to Central Pennsylvania’s Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday for the annual concert benefiting family farmers, Harrisburg’s Patriot-News reports.
This year’s Farm Aid, the 27th since Willie Nelson founded the organization with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985, highlighted the need to get young people involved in agriculture, a point emphasized by co-founder Neil Young at a news conference held before the music kicked off.
“We have to convince kids that the real future of America is to rebel, to be a farmer,” Young said. “It’s a mission from God.”
In addition to the co-founders, the 2012 line-up featured Dave Matthews (who joined Nelson, Young and Mellencamp on Farm Aid’s board in 2001), Jamey Johnson, Dale Watson, Jack Johnson, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Kenny Chesney and ALO. The family theme rose up in performances by Pegi Young and the Survivors (led by Neil Young’s wife) and Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real (headed up by the son of Willie Nelson). All Farm Aid performers play the shows for free and provide their own transportation.
Many of the sets featured guest performances from other artists on the bill: Kenney Chesney brought Grace Potter up to duet on “You and Tequila,” and later returned to the stage to join John Mellencamp on “Small Town,” while Neil Young (who brought Crazy Horse along for his own set) joined in for a number with his wife’s band. Willie Nelson, Farm Aid’s president, closed out the show.
“I was just hoping to help farmers be able to farm food and feed their families,” Nelson told the Patriot-News of the event’s origins in an interview on Friday. “There was a time we were the strongest, after World War II, when everybody was pulling the plow. Now the government is only trying to make things better for the big corporations.”