We are currently wrapping up a 3-day anniversary celebration of the largest peace and love music festival there ever was….Woodstock. From August 15th through the 17th in 1969, a patch of farmland in an upstate town in New York was the place to be.
Promoters of the Woodstock concert originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise funds to build a recording studio and rock-and-roll retreat near the town of Woodstock, New York. They were incredibly successful in landing a roster of top acts including the Who, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, and Creedence Clearwater Revival just to start the list. But when the event was denied permission in Woodstock and another neighboring town, a local dairy farmer came to the rescue at the last minute. Max Yasgur gave promoters access to his 600 acres in Bethel, about 50 miles from Woodstock, saving the festival and becoming the most famous farmer there ever was.
It’s still hard to say precisely how many people were in attendance at Woodstock. Early estimates were increased from 50,000 to 200,000, but by the time the gates opened on Friday, August 15th, more than 400,000 people were clamoring to get in. Those without tickets slipped in where they could and soon organizers were forced to make the festival free of charge.
And what seemed like a recipe for disaster, this chaotic group of “hippies” literally lived up to the festival’s billing of “Three Days of Peace and Music.” There were surprisingly few incidents of violence, even when many musicians sang protest songs about the ongoing Vietnam war.
In these trying times when so many are trying to re-write history, there’s also time to reflect on history’s successes.