More than 2,000 people attended a star-studded concert in Pictou, N.S. Tuesday night to draw attention to the ongoing air quality issues around the Northern Pulp mill.

Maritime artists such as Matt Andersen, Thom Swift, Joel Plaskett, J.P. Cormier and Bruce Guthro all lent their talents to the free, all-ages Clean the Mill concert.

“There’s 16 or 17 acts and we’re trying to keep the awareness out there and show support,” said musician and area resident Dave Gunning.

The artists said they hoped the concert would promote awareness of the community’s efforts to have a clean, healthy environment.

Swift said he was surprised to see so much pollution emanating from the mill the last time he was in Pictou.

“We were engulfed in this haze and I could taste the chemicals in my mouth and I’m a New Brunswick boy, I’ve been around mills, but never in my life have I experienced anything so dense,” said Swift.

Residents have become increasingly concerned about the emissions from the stacks at the mill in Abercrombie Point.

Tests conducted last year showed the mill was producing emissions that were 78 per cent above legal limits, but the company says there has been a 25 per cent improvement in particulate levels since then.

“I live in the county and have watched all of this unfold over the last few years and it’s just something that has to be dealt with,” said Cormier.

Last month, The Nova Scotia government issued a compliance order giving Northern Pulp a deadline of May 30 to get its air quality emissions in line, or be forced to shut down.

Mill officials say a new precipitator should be in place by then, but concert organizers say that’s too long when air quality is at stake.

“There’s still a lot of people unsatisfied that they’re going to be allowed to operate while exceeding permit levels until next May,” said Gunning.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Gena Holley