The Woodstock 50th year anniversary celebration of the original Woodstock was conducted August 16th through 19th, 2019. I attended this event with my husband to see what the hype is all about. I was only 6 years old when the original Woodstock took place. I had heard of Woodstock but never realized the important things this event added to our culture.
The Woodstock Music Festival began on August 15, 1969, as half a million people waited on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for the three-day music festival to start. Billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music,” the epic event would later be known simply as Woodstock and become synonymous with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Woodstock was a success, but the massive concert didn’t come off without a hitch: Last-minute venue changes, bad weather and the hordes of attendees caused major headaches. Still, despite—or because of—a lot of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and rain, Woodstock was a peaceful celebration and earned its hallowed place in pop culture history.
Woodstock was held in the town of Bethel, NY surrounded by the Catskill Mountains. Concert goers were a diverse group of people and experienced bad weather, muddy conditions and a lack of food, water and adequate sanitation. Even though there were approximately a half million people in attendance, the concert went off without too many issues. Only 2 deaths were reported. One person was run over by a tractor as they had fallen asleep and the driver didn’t know they were there. The other person died of a drug-related incident.
Woodstock 1969 performers included Arlo Guthrie, John Sebastain, Santana, The Greatful Dead, Janice Joplin, Creedance Clearwater Revival, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane. The festival lasted for 3 days regardless of sunshine or rain and lack of food and water.
Festival goers were a diverse group of people, some were called “hippies.” It was the end of an era of the civil rights movement. In an era of much unrest, protests, and the Vietnam War, this event gave concert goers a way to escape into music and to spread unity and peace. A motto some used was “make love, not war.”
August 16th – 19th, 2019 was the 50th anniversary celebration of the original Woodstock! This was a 3 day event that included several of the great musicians that were at the original Woodstock 50 years earlier. These included Santana, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and John Fogerty from CCR.
This time around, concert goers had to pass through metal detectors and were only able to take in clear plastic bags and purses of a certain size. This is due to the recent shootings around the world. I am grateful that I did not see anything terrifying happening at this event, such as a shooting. It appeared that people of many diverse cultures were in attendance and were enjoying themselves. Ages ranged from young children to older adults that had been in attendance at the original Woodstock. Now and then I could smell marijuana which is customary for a concert such as this. A lot of making new friends, dancing and singing went on regardless of the weather.
We drove 8 hours to stay the weekend in New York so we could attend this event. Yes, we also sat in the rain for several hours the 3rd night of the event. We had to clear the field before the concert and was told to return to our cars until the inclement weather subsided. Most people did as was told but we were rebels and hung out near the restrooms with others. Yep, we were rebels. We sang and danced for 3 nights in a row.
I was amazed to hear the stories from Santana and John Fogerty – how they had gotten invited to perform at the original Woodstock festival, the people they saw at the concert and the events that happened during that awesome weekend. John Fogerty told us that they had to be taken by helicopter to the event because of the traffic jam and the amount of people in attendance made it so they couldn’t get to the stage. He said the helicopter was not what he expected. It was only a 2-seater.
All in all I was tired by the end of this weekend event, yet I laughed as I thought about the original Woodstock…
I’m glad I was only 6 years old when the original Woodstock took place because I would have been out there enjoying myself in the ’60s as the other party goers were doing back then. Here are a few photos of myself and my husband:
Woodstock is perhaps best described by Max Yasgur, the humble farmer who lent his land for the occasion. Addressing the audience on day three he said, “…You’ve proven something to the world…the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids, and I call you kids because I have children who are older than you are, a half a million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music and God bless you for it!”
I realized that the original Woodstock was not a bad thing. It was to bring people together. We need to realize this in today’s world. There is too much anger and hatred in the world today.
Woodstock is not about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, it’s about unity, peace and love!!
Photos: Property of Janet G. W.