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Iowa History Daily: April 24 - Farm Aid VI at Cyclone Stadium

On April 24, 1993, music superstars Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Charlie Daniels, Ringo Starr, Dwight Yoakam took the stage at Cyclone Stadium (now: Jack Trice) in Ames for Farm Aid VI. Over 40,000 people turned out in person, while many others tuned in live on television as the concert raised funds and awareness for America’s family farms.

On a weekend also featuring the (then) annual Veishea celebration at Iowa State and the Drake Relays in nearby Des Moines, concert goers shelled out $27.50 which Willie Nelson hoped would “reach beyond the cornfields of Iowa to every American.” Following the footsteps of the original Farm Aid concert in Illinois during 1985 the sixth concert also featured the original organizers of the concert series Nelson, Mellencamp, and Young.

Young drew controversy when the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying: “I’m not happy to be here. Farm Aid is not an American tradition. It’s a Band-Aid. We ought to get rid of it.” Clearly frustrated with a lack of progress on farm policy following meetings with federal Agriculture Department officials held in conjunction with the concert, Young performed a song on stage featuring the lyrics: “For seven long years we’ve been fighting for a change, lookin’ for a county that don’t need Farm Aid.”

Despite the hope of a world not in need of Farm Aid, the concert continues to persist, with concerts consistently hosted through 2021. The 1993 stop in Ames represents the only time the series made it to Iowa, which Nelson at the time called “The heart of the heartland.” #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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