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Train To Farm Aid Concert Jeopardized

September 14, 1985

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A train scheduled to travel from California to Illinois to boost support for a fund-raising concert for farmers was in jeopardy Friday because of a lack of money for insurance, officials said.

Dwight Haldeman, a spokesman for country singer Merle Haggard who organized the train, said the whistlestop tour would be canceled unless a corporate sponsor could be found Saturday.

Haldeman said Haggard’s agency in San Marcos, Calif., was trying to come up with ″hundreds of thousands of dollars″ to pay the insurance.

The train is to carry performers to the Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Ill., scheduled for Sept. 22 at the University of Illinois’ football stadium.

Among those who plan to take the train are Haggard, Willie Nelson, Alabama, Janie Fricke, Arlo Guthrie, the Judds, Tammy Wynette, Dennis Weaver, George Lindsey.

The performers are to leave Bakersfield, Calif., Monday, and give benefit concerts in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday and Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 20.

The train is to go on to Champaign and end its trip in Chicago the day after the concert, and had been scheduled to make 38 stops in eight states.

Officials were telling performers to check Saturday about whether the train would leave as scheduled.

They said the tour would be cut back even if a corporate sponsor could be found. Haldeman said those details would be worked out over the weekend.

″It just became economically unfeasible to do it,″ said Haggard press spokesman Jeff Walker. ″Merle still believes in the concept.

″A train of this sort, with dozens of celebrities on it, requires extra insurance,″ Walker said. ″This was a situation not raised prior to this.

″Noboby can take the blame for it,″ he said.

The concert, featuring some of the top names in pop and country music, is a 78,000-ticket sellout. The 12-hour benefit will be televised live by The Nashville Network on cable TV and broadcast by the Music Country Network; three hours of the event will be syndicated to other stations.

Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson and Nelson initiated the concert.

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