Farm Aid coming back to Pittsburgh area on Sept. 16 |
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Mary Pickels
Willie Nelson performs at Farm Aid 2002 at the then-named Post-Gazette Pavillion (now KeyBank Pavilion). That was the last time the annual fundraising concert was in Western Pennsylvania. It returns in September 2017.

Farm Aid ’17, a day-long food and musical festival created 30 years ago to raise awareness for issues facing family farmers, rocks on and will return to the Pittsburgh area on Sept. 16 for the first time in 12 years.

Tickets for the event, being staged at KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown, Washington County, go on sale June 23.

Headlining artists include Farm Aid president and founding member Willie Nelson, along with board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews. Joining them will be Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Jamey Johnson, Blackberry Smoke, Valerie June, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and Insects vs. Robots.

Additional performers will be announced later this summer, organizers say.

It will be the third time the nonprofit festival has taken place in Pennsylvania, with shows in Burgettstown in 2002 and Hershey in 2012.

“Family farm agriculture is the heart of Pennsylvania,” the 84-year-old Nelson says in a release. “What’s happening in Western Pennsylvania and the region shows us that we can count on family farmers to strengthen our communities and connect people. Whether we live in rural or urban places, food — and music — brings us all together.”

Agriculture remains Pennsylvania’s leading economic enterprise. Along with agribusiness, it contributes nearly $75 billion to the state’s economy each year. Home to 58,200 farms, the Keystone State also is the birthplace of organic agriculture in the U.S., according to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Hannah Smith-Brubaker.

Since its 1985 inception, Farm Aid has raised more than $50 million to support programs that help farmers, expand the Good Food Movement effort, work to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

The festivals typically attract 25,000 or more.

Along with music and food, the events host educational components to teach those in attendance about family farm agriculture firsthand.

Festivalgoers can also hear from farmers and artists about pressing issues on the FarmYard Stage, attend demonstrations to learn agrarian skills and celebrate the culture of agriculture in the Homegrown Skills tent, connecting with organizations doing critical food and farm work all over the country.

With a goal of zero waste, the concert’s greening efforts will include recycling and composting, including compostable serviceware and packaging throughout the venue.

Bids for special event experiences, from behind-the-scenes tours to signed memorabilia from this year’s headliners will be accepted beginning June 14 at Limited pre-sale tickets can be purchased at at noon June 14.

Admission to the Burgettstown show is $49.50 to $199.50, with tickets going on sale June 23. Details: 800-745-3000 or

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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