Duke tie brings Mellencamp, Farm Aid to Triangle

Jul. 24, 2014 @ 11:07 PM

It took nearly eight months to finalize all the details, but music legends John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Dave Matthews are bringing Farm Aid to the Triangle as promised.

Farm Aid officials announced Thursday that the day-long concert, which produces proceeds that benefit family farmers nationwide, will be held Sept. 13 at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Ampitheatre.

Farm Aid has been held every year but two since 1985, when the first Farm Aid concert took place at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. Over the years it has raised $45 million to aid family farmers.

But it has never been held in North Carolina, something Mellencamp had a particular interest in changing. His son, Hud, is a junior at Duke who plays on the football team as a walk-on.

While Hud Mellencamp has yet to appear in a game for the Blue Devils, his famous father has spent enough time in North Carolina to develop a connection with the state.

“John’s son, Hud, having come down here for school was definitely a pull for him,” said Jennifer Fahy, Farm Aid’s communications director. “John was interested in having us here. He has really come to know this area.”

Last December, while attending Duke’s Chick-fil-A Bowl game in Atlanta and taking part in pregame ceremonies, John Mellencamp told The Herald-Sun that he and the fellow Farm Aid organizers planned to bring the concert to Durham.

It wound up on the other side of the Triangle, in Raleigh, because of Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Fahy said.

Over time, she said, organizers have come to prefer holding their event in an amphitheatre rather than putting on a stadium show. Costs are easier to manage, she said, which allows the event to raise more funds for the charity with less going into production costs.

“A stadium show is a little bit more production intense,” Fahy said. “Walnut Creek Amphitheatre is a great fit for Farm Aid.”

Duke also has a home football game on Sept. 13, a 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Kansas.

Still, Mellencamp stayed true to his word by bringing the event, which is expected to draw around 20,000 spectators, to North Carolina.

“We’re proud to bring Farm Aid 2014 to North Carolina for the first time to feature the family farmers whose hard work and innovations are essential for all of us,” John Mellencamp said in a statement.

In addition to music from Mellencamp, Young, Nelson and Matthews, other performers will include Tim Reynolds, Jack White, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jamey Johnson, Durham’s own Delta Rae, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Carlene Carter, Pegi Young & The Survivors, and Insects vs Robots.

Fahy said another important aspect of Farm Aid is the food offerings, which will mostly feature ingredients produced on local farms. There will also be a home-grown village area where farmers will show visitors about hands-on food and farm techniques.

“There is a fair-like feeling when you go to Farm Aid,” Mellencamp said. “All day long, people are performing onstage and food from family farmers is being served. It’s a great occasion for families to come listen to great music and teach their children about where their food comes from.”

While the official public sale won’t begin for another week, the first tickets will go on sale today at noon online by visiting farmaid.org/tickets.

Another presale will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. through Thursday night on Mellencamp’s website, mellencamp.com.

On Aug. 1, tickets will be available through Walnut Creek’s usual outlets, including online at livenation.com.

Tickets range in price from $49 to $175.

Two local organizations that aid family farmers will be among the many benefitting financially from the concert, Fahy said. They are the Rural Advancement Foundation International of Pittsboro and Durham’s Land Loss Prevention Project.

“In North Carolina and across the Southeast,” Nelson said in a statement, “family farmers have struggled to stay on the land, but they have also pioneered new roads to economic sustainability. This region knows the value of its farmers and offers increasing opportunities for new farmers to build a strong regional food system. On the Farm Aid stage Saturday, September 13, we’ll celebrate family farmers and the healthy communities they’re growing for all of us.”