Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Prairie Festival

No Prairie Festival in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic 

Instead, stay tuned for a major announcement about the future of perennial agriculture.

Nine months ago, speaking from the stage of Prairie Festival 2019, Bill McKibben said that “the genius of The Land Institute is its cussed insistence on reality.” And indeed, for more than 40 years our hallmark has been to embrace the ecological facts of life on this planet and to follow those lessons wherever they lead, in matters large or small. This global pandemic year has brought a new ecological reality to the fore: in light of the ongoing need to drive down COVID-19 transmission rates, it would not be responsible or appropriate for us to gather hundreds of people physically together this fall. For this reason, we will not hold a Prairie Festival in 2020.

But COVID-19 – and the broader gaps in resilience it has illuminated – only serves to rededicate us to our vision of a more perennial and diverse future for ecosystems and the people who are part of them. From human health to climate change to systems that degrade people and soil alike, we understand that our problems are fundamentally interlinked. And so, the work of The Land Institute continues with more urgency than ever. We are about to take the next big step in the journey toward a perennial agriculture. Even though we won’t see you in Salina this September, please stay tuned for details of an online event this fall – a major announcement that will help shape the next 40 years of food and agriculture.

The decision to cancel this year’s Prairie Festival was not made lightly or without regret, and many in our community of supporters – whether 2020 would have marked your 42nd Prairie Festival or your first – will grieve the loss of the opportunity to gather together in the Big Barn by the Smoky Hill River this fall. But perennials are in it for the long haul. When they encounter tough conditions, they hunker down – and prepare to blossom again next season. Prairie Festival will return in 2021. And meanwhile our work continues unabated toward an agriculture and a culture both perennial and diverse.

Fred Iutzi
President, The Land Institute

About Prairie Festival

The first Prairie Festival took place in 1979 on Sam and Terry Evans’ farm near Salina, Kansas, with David Brower as the featured speaker. Since then, our signature annual public event has drawn thousands of attendees from around the world.

Held over the last full weekend of September along the banks of the Smoky Hill River on The Land Institute’s home campus outside Salina, Kansas, the festival revolves around “low tech” presentations by notable guests in The Land Institute’s Big Barn.

The Prairie Festival offers a unique opportunity to interact with some of the world’s most compelling authors, thinkers, artists, and advocates focused on agriculture, food, the environment, science, sustainability, and social and environmental justice.

Our science staff provides tours and an in-depth update on our plant breeding and ecology work and partnerships. There’s great food and music, the Hedge Fire Circle, and always a few surprises. Join us for what The New York Times called an “intellectual hootenanny” and what has become a remarkable can’t-miss event on the prairie.

View Previous Prairie Festival Presentations

Videos of talks and presentations from previous Prairie Festivals can be viewed in our Video & Audio Library. To see last years presentations, visit  2019 speaker presentations on our YouTube channel.

For information on visiting The Land Institute, including driving directions, local accommodations, and more, or if you can’t make it to the Prairie Festival but would like to visit The Land Institute, we can arrange for a tour at other times of the year, check out the Visit Us page of our website.

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