Farmers will rock out at the Battle of the Farmer Bands Saturday – Syracuse.com

Posted: November 11, 2019 at 7:46 pm


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Local farmers are trading their tractors for banjos and drumsticks at a band competition on Saturday, Nov. 16 to promote sustainable, organic farming in Central New York.

Dubbed Battle of the Farmer Bands, the event will have five bands vying for the title of best farmer band at the Hopshire Farm and Brewery in Freeville, N.Y. from 5 to 9 p.m. Each band has at least one member who is a farmer or works the land in some way.

Besides watching the farmer bands rock out, attendees can also participate in the raffles and silent auction featuring products from local restaurants and businesses. Fire Dawgs BBQ and Catering will be serving up food that night (including vegetarian options), while Hopshire will have local beer on tap, such as their very own Beehave, a honey ale made with 100% New York-grown ingredients, and cider from Finger Lakes Cider House.

Photo courtesy of The Local Farmers Union

Veggie folk-rock band The Local Famers Union will perform at the Battle of the Farmer Bands in Freeville, N.Y. on Nov. 16, 2019.

Organizer Bobcat Bonagura, who is the co-owner of Main Street Farms in Cortland, came up with the idea for the event after attending a fundraiser for the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming in Ithaca where local farmers competed in telling tales of triumph and sorrow from their farm.

But instead of telling stories, farmers could play music, Bonagura said. I have a bunch of farmer friends who are musically-inclined, and I knew there were several other bands that happened to have both farmers and musicians, he said. He himself is a member of a farmer band that will be performing that eveninghe plays the mandolin for The Local Farmers Union, which they call New Yorks premiere veggie folk-rock band.

Bonagura is also a board member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), a non-profit organization that works to educate farmers, gardeners and consumers about the importance of producing organic food and supporting local farms. He wanted to help NOFA-NY continue their work, so he reached out to them about his fundraising idea.

I wanted to see NOFA-NY do more general education of the public and really drive home to people how important it is that we are supporting our local farms, Bonagura said.

The event is free to attend but proceeds from food and drink sales, raffles, the silent auction and donations at the door will benefit NOFA-NY. Hopshire will also donate $1 for every one of their beer sold.

Emma Ertinger, NOFA-NYs communications coordinator, said that the funds raised will help offset registration costs to NOFA-NYs 38th annual winter conference in January 2020 at The OnCenter for people in need. The Battle of the Farmer Bands winner will get to perform at the winter conference.

The event also doubles as the revival of NOFA-NYs Central New York chapter. Ertinger said theres been a revival of their regional chapters as their board members are stepping up to lead them and brainstorm better ways to serve farmers they work with across the state.

Photo courtesy of The Local Farmers Union

Veggie folk-rock band The Local Famers Union will perform at the Battle of the Farmer Bands in Freeville, N.Y. on Nov. 16, 2019.

This is a really good opportunity for farmers to connect and be in community with one another, Ertinger said. Farming can be a really isolating profession.

Bonagura said hes most excited about bringing people in the farming and local food community together.

Itd be a shame to see a lot of these small farms that are struggling go out of business because people arent supporting them," Bonagura said. "Sometimes, people just need a little nudge, a little reminder about why this is important.

For more details about the event and the bands, visit their Facebook event page.

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Farmers will rock out at the Battle of the Farmer Bands Saturday - Syracuse.com

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November 11th, 2019 at 7:46 pm

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