This music festival was not your ordinary music festival. It was a cultural milestone for Baby Boomers, the 1960s generation. The Woodstock Music & Art Fair or informally called the Woodstock Festival or plainly Woodstock was a music festival that attracted an audience of over 400,000 people held on a dairy farm in New York State from August 15 to 17, 1969 but was extended to four days up until August 18, 1969, due to the rainy last day. The theme was “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”. During the sometimes rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors before an audience of 400,000 people. It is widely considered as a crucial moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive connection for the larger counterculture generation. Rolling Stone listed this as one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. Here are the 12 Crazy Woodstock Festival Photos.
The Woodstock festival was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel. Bethel, in Sullivan County, is 43 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York. It didn’t actually take place in Woodstock as everyone thought. A deal was struck for $75,000 with the dairy farmer.
The Woodstock festival was a free concert and there was no official Woodstock merchandise sold at the festival. Initially, the organizers thought that they had to build ticket booths for promotion but because of the crowd, that idea became just a formality in the event. The big star performers and nearly half a million people made the event a legendary festival.
It was said that organizers had problems with the venue after the permits were revoked a month before the festival was supposed to take place. The original venue was supposed to be at Woodstock, New York hence the name. Unfortunately, the residents of Woodstock didn’t want the festival to be held in their town so the organizers had to find another place. It was only Max Yasgur who agreed to have the event held on his farmland in Bethel, New York.
The Woodstock generation sported a fashion that made their generation more unique. The fashion was heavily influenced by the hippie trends back during those times. So there were a ton of tie-dyed clothing, bohemian dresses, flower wreath headpiece and peace pendants. There were also ten million yards of blue jeans and striped T-shirt material at the festival.
Hippies and grass often go hand in hand. Right? In the festival 9 out of 10 attendees smoked grass. It wasn’t legalized in New York during the time of the festival but a majority of the hippies were smoking it. Also during those three days, they could smoke all they wanted as much as they wanted. Even the artists were smoking joints before going on stage.The police didn’t arrest them all as it was impossible to fit all those people in the county prison. But despite that, the festival was relatively peaceful.
Given the supposed to be three-day but extended to a four-day festival and a massive crowd, it’s foreseen to have a food shortage. But when a Jewish community found out that there was a food shortage, they generously made sandwiches with 200 loaves of bread, 40 pounds of meat cuts and two gallons of pickles.
The opening act for the festival was Richie Havens followed by an opening speech by Swami Satchidananda. The other performers were Santana, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, and Sweetwater were there, along with other big artists in the 1960’s. There was a total of 32 acts spread over the four-day festival.
The musicians nearly performed continuously and there were even some who played even past 2 a.m. The lineup went from morning to afternoon. The Creedence Clearwater Revival actually played at 3:30 a.m. with nearly most of the crowd asleep in the field. But on the last day, the people was awakened by Jimi Hendrix’s performance. Even though the crowd had thinned out the legendary musician played for two hours.
The Woodstock Festival’s unique feature was that it featured smoke camps where people met and shared stories. The hippies created makeshift ‘smoke camps’ where they openly smoked grass and hash, sharing with the people around them. This was a music festival and also a gathering where people were able to share their beliefs about society and life. The event has been called a social revolution.
To imagine how amazing this festival was, back in the 1960s there was no online marketing back then and yet the festival became a milestone for that generation and made history. The festival was about idealistic hopes of change and world peace, overall, the festival was considered a success by many of the attendees. It was a merge of music, freedom, unity, peace, and ending war.
Although the festival was considered a success, it took a decade for the organizers to recoup money from the festival. Woodstock Ventures were $1.3 million deep in debt after the historic event. They were able to make money via the audio and recording rights of the artists. The organizers were only expecting 50,000 people but it turned out to almost half a million so they had to be creative to accommodate the influx of unexpected crowd.
With a crowd that huge, the Sullivan County was declared under the state of emergency during the festival. Despite that, that didn’t stop the people from pouring in and fortunately, everything was organized and peaceful. If you were one of the organizers of that festival, you would assume a huge risk with such a massive crowd. So there were officers standing by from the nearby Stewart Air Force Base who assisted in keeping order within the festivals and highways.
If the Woodstock Festival would happen right now (but most likely won’t be allowed) the crowd would have probably been gassed or hosed or something else. Freedom is almost illegal now. Most especially smoking grass. The people would have probably been arrested despite the huge number. So now you know why the Woodstock Festival is legendary and one-of-a-kind. It would almost be impossible to have a festival of this kind again.