20th anniversary Farm Aid back to its Illinois roots

CHICAGO, Illinois, July 11, 2005 (ENS): Farm Aid co-founders Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp announced that the nation's leading family farm advocacy organization will mark its 20th anniversary by returning to Illinois - the state where it began.

Farm Aid 2005 will urge Americans to choose food from family farms. The 20th anniversary celebration will kick off with a week of food and music events in Chicago. Pre-concert events will showcase the city's efforts to promote family farm food by linking rural and urban communities.

The events will culminate with Farm Aid's 20th anniversary all-star fundraising concert to take place on September 18 at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Illinois.

The 20th anniversary concert will feature Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, plus other top artists to be announced later.

"From small towns to folks in the city, everybody knows family farm food is the best," said Farm Aid President Nelson. "It's good to be back in Illinois where it all started. This state is showing how good food can connect places like Champaign and Chicago."

"It inspires us to think about family farmers every day," Nelson said. "I'm looking forward to playing on the Farm Aid stage, playing music with my friends."

"Farmers have a tremendous impact on the quality of food that we eat," said Farm Aid Board Member Mellencamp. "Farm Aid is always a great show, but even more important is that Farm Aid helps the consumer and the family farmer work together for the benefit of all of us."

Farm Aid week in Chicago will include the County Fair at the Garfield Conservatory on September 17, a film festival, possible small-venue performances, educational and restaurant events, as well as the release of Farm Aid's book, "FARM AID: A Song for America." During the week, Farm Aid will spotlight activities at Chicago-area farmers markets.

Farm Aid began in 1985 when Willie Nelson, inspired by comments from Bob Dylan at Live Aid, along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, hosted a day-long music benefit for family farmers in Champaign, Illinois. The event was held to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land.

Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001.

In the past 20 years, Farm Aid has raised more than $27 million. Through public education and direct grants, Farm Aid supports national, regional and local efforts to build and strengthen family farm food systems.

"Right now, America is on the cusp of a "good food" movement, promoted and supported by Farm Aid," said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. "The American public recognizes family farmers as their resource for food that is local, humanely raised, organic, and sustainable, and consumers are reaching for these foods in grocery stores, at farmers markets, in schools and even in hospitals. This demand offers growing economic opportunity for family farmers to thrive."

"I am pleased to welcome Farm Aid to Chicago to celebrate its 20th anniversary," said Mayor Richard Daley. "Chicago is committed to supporting small businesses and improving the quality of life for its residents, and Farm Aid helps family farmers do their job of producing the highest quality food for our City and for people all over the country."

For the third year, Silk Soymilk is the presenting sponsor of the Farm Aid concert. "Silk Soymilk is proud to present Farm Aid's 20th anniversary concert," said Mike Keown, senior vice president of marketing for WhiteWave Foods. "We salute the important role that family farmers serve in promoting sustainable agriculture and providing healthy food to American families."

Tickets for Farm Aid 2005 are on sale July 30 at 10 a.m. CDT and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Tweeter Center box office, charge by phone in Chicago at 312-559-1212, or online at http://www.tweetercenter.com/chicago.

Farm Aid will offer special advance sale tickets to its FarmYard members. For more information about Farm Aid's 20th anniversary, visit: http://www.farmaid.org

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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