Farm Aid 2014 Rocks Raleigh, Draws Awareness to Farm Issues
The Grey Area news staff are thankful to the Farm Aid organization for providing us with access during this event. It was an incredible event to cover, and by bringing our families along it made for an excellent day of music, food, information, and enjoyment! — Frank and Kay Whatley
Farm Aid 2014 hit Raleigh, NC on September 13, 2014. Frank Whatley of The Grey Area news was on-hand to cover the annual event.
The Farm Aid Experience
By Frank and Kay Whatley
The Farm Aid 2014 concert in Raleigh gave local residents a chance to support small farms, gave local farmers a voice, and let all of them enjoy great music and concessions.
The event day started with an 11am press conference. Farm Aid’s founders — Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young — and Dave Matthews joined local farmers in speaking to the press, covering issues farmers face.
Even after three decades of Farm Aid, farmers still face some of the same issues. Small farms still need support, which Farm Aid strives to provide year round, and through its unique concert experience.
Following the press conference, the crowd of concert-goers entered the gates and it was on! We were there.
Once inside the gates, my family and I found tons to do! Farm Aid 2014 combined the best of a county fair, a concert, and a farmers market!
The concert line-up combined a variety of musicians, assuring that there was something for just about everyone. While the music played, the path around the stage was full of activity.
We walked around through most of the concert, enjoying the music booming, and occasionally checking out the stage. There was just so much to do! We sampled from the special concert menu, which listed the local farms’ names alongside food descriptions. Homegrown Concessions® by Farm aid were served throughout the event, providing good local food for a few bucks more than a person would spend for the normal festival junk food. We knew that whatever we selected, it would be local, non-GMO, free range, or all three. The NC paw paw Italian Ice was so tasty, we had it after lunch and dinner.
In addition to eating our way through the festival, the family and I also checked out the expo and attended presentations given by local farmers.
By mid-afternoon, we were sitting on hay bales learning how to make pepper jelly. There were chairs, but why? Bales seemed appropriate! We sat listening to farmers from Two Chicks Farm (Hillsborough) teaching how to make pepper jelly from fresh garden peppers.
The organizers expected, and received, a large crowd. They planned accordingly, arranging for dishes and utensils to be recyclable to minimize trash generated by the event. Volunteers helped people throw things into the right bins. Plus, trucks full of water were available freely to those with reusable water bottles to further minimize waste.
For our family, their concessions will be the food by which every other festival will be measured. Hopefully more venues will move to local food, and recycling all utensils. If it can be done for the audience at Farm Aid, other events could do it too! Can you imagine the boon to local farms?