Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Prairie Festival

Registration now open for Prairie Festival, September 24-26,2021

This year’s Prairie Festival will include our perennial favorites: a Friday night barn dance with the Land Band and Sunday morning concert by Ann Zimmerman, morning yoga and a Prairie Walk, the Kernza pancake breakfast and concessions from Prairieland Market, an artist presentation in the Red Barn, and research updates and plot tours by our lead scientists. We are confirming an exciting speaker line-up and details will be posted here once that schedule is finalized.

Register here

COVID-19 Safety

Protocol is subject to change due to circumstances at the time of event. Masks are strongly encouraged for unvaccinated individuals. We will have masks available at registration for those who need them. Please use the hand sanitizer stations, which will be set up near communal areas such as the big barn, concessions, and bookstore.

The open barn holds several hundred guests, there will be stadium seating in bleachers immediately around the barn, and there will also be some room to spread out on the surrounding lawn for those who wish to space out further. If you are unsure about attending the event, livestreaming and recordings are also available. 

Art and Music

Erin Wiersma’s artistic practice focuses on the body’s capacity to absorb and respond to an environment. Based in the Flint Hills of Kansas, she is creating works on paper with the land at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, one of the few remaining protected grasslands in the world. Erin is represented by Robischon Gallery in Denver, Colorado and Galerie Wehlau in Munich, Germany, and her work has been featured in Minding Nature / Center for Humans & Nature, OnVerge / CUE Foundation, Art21 Online Magazine and Two Coats of Paint. Erin received her B.A. from Messiah College and completed her M.F.A. at the University of Connecticut. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Kansas State University.


Ann Zimmerman sings her native prairie into universal language and works magic from songs of life on the windy plains.  Her confident Kansas style and magnetic stage presence have taken her across the continent singing a hundred gigs a year. Her songs – winners of the Wildflower! Festival, Great American Song, and the Just Plain Folks national song contests – tell stories and paint portraits, leaving audiences laughing, thinking, singing.


Once a year, the Land Band musicians make a place in their complex lives to lead the Prairie Festival barn dance. Keyboardist Ann Zimmerman, Salina, known for her Sunday Prairie Festival performances, sings year-round and mediates legal disputes. Guitarist and teacher-rancher-songwriter Annie Wilson was named “Flint Hills Balladeer” by Kansas for Flint Hills-themed songs she performs with her band, Tallgrass Express. Lisa Grossman, acoustic bassist from Lawrence, is better known for her landscape painting but loves playing for dances.  Baldwin artist Matt Kirby also plays in the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band on a hammered dulcimer he built. Lisa Harris, our caller from Lawrence, loves to help people have fun through community dance and directs continuing education programs in transportation at the University of Kansas. Lenexans Frank and Christine Martin play in contra dance band, Calliope, which, like the Land Band, has been around for over 30 years; Frank practices law, assisted by Chris in their home office. All Land Band members are committed to the Land Institute and its mission. 

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 the most recent speakers, 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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