Woodstock '69 Remembered

The Woodstock Music Festival was a three day event that was held Friday, August 15, 1969 to Sunday, August 17, 1969 in a field in Bethel, New York. The organizers of the festival thought a weekend of music by some of the greatest performers of the era would be attractive and expected about 50,000 people to show up. What they got was a three day music festival, attended by 500,000 people, filled with rain, food and facilities shortages. And, it became a groundbreaking event for the 60’s generation.

The original idea for a music festival was from a group of four young men who had the idea of a small, outdoor event featuring performers from the Woodstock area such as Bob Dylan and The Band. Once the idea was finalized, they promoters went about seeking music acts for the event. The first major recording act that signed on for the festival was Creedence Clearwater Revival. Prior to CCR signing, the organizers were having problems getting acts for the event. After CCR signed, it all changed.

The next major concern for the organizers was a choice of location. The original plans for the festival were for a modest sized event and the original site was in Wallkill, New York. However, in July 1969, the town board banned the concert. Once, the ban was in place, the organizers started looking for a last minute replacement site. In the meantime, word of the ban started to spread and interest in the festival also gained momentum. After looking at alternative sites, a 500 acre dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur became the last minute location of the event.

The momentum of the event was clearly rolling and many of the top musical acts of the 60’s signed on to perform. Performers such as Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Janis Joplin, The Who, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Jimi Hendrix signed to appear at the festival. Now that the festival had a location, the organizers continued to promote the event.

However, a major stumbling block for the location was not being able to secure the property with a fence to prevent gate crashers. Because of the late change in locations, the organizers made a decision to allow anyone to attend the festival free of charge, and use the limited resources to finish working on the stage.

Attendees to the festival began arriving several days in advance of the event and they continued to arrive in waves. Overall, more than 500,000 people attended a festival that was expecting substantially fewer people. Because of the large crowds, there was massive traffic jams to the rural site and the festival did not have enough food, water or sanitary facilities for the attendees. In addition, the rain during the event, turned the fields into a mud bath. 

Despite the inadequate facilities, the festival was memorable for the music and for the sense of peace and harmony. Instead of revolting and creating problems, the attendees shared provisions with each other and there was a minimal amount of trouble.

However, the Woodstock Music Festival will be remembered as a three day love fest, where despite lousy weather, people enjoyed great music. The festival was also the blueprint for other music festivals around the world.

·       How Woodstock Happened

·       Woodstock Memories

·       Woodstock Museum

·       Organizing Woodstock

·       Three Days of Peace and Music

·       Woodstock Memories

·       1969 Woodstock Music Festival

·       Woodstock Festival Photos

·       Festival Site

·       Woodstock Lineup and Song List

·       Woodstock Legacy

·       Woodstock Music Festival

·       1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival

·       The Woodstock Story

·      Electric Guitars

·       Woodstock Festival Fun Facts

·       Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

·       Woodstock Festival Timeline

·       Woodstock Festival Photos