The baffling history of mankind is full of obvious turning points and significant events: battles won, treaties signed, rulers elected or disposed, and now seemingly, planets conquered. Equally important are the great groundswells of popular moments that affect the minds and values of a generation or more, not all of which can be neatly tied to a time or place. Looking back upon the America of the’ 60s, future historians may well search for the meaning of one such movement. It drew the public’s notice on the days and nights of Aug.15 through 17, 1969, on the 600-acre farm of Max Yasgur in Bethel, N.Y.” (TIME, 32).
This is a quote represents the impact Woodstock made on the public, compared to major political events. It’s a great introduction that recognizes the social and political impact Woodstock has made on the country. What was supposed to be a festival of around 50,000 people, turned out to be a large party of 300,000-400,000 people, mostly consisting of the younger generation. It was an event that nobody could have imagined would make such an impact on the nation.
The festival was created by John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield, and Mike Lang; four young men, no older than 27, trying to gain money and bring together a group of people with common interests. What they ended up creating was a new generation. The idea for the music festival arose when Kornfield and Lang got the idea to open up a recording studio in Woodstock, NY. They decide to create a three day rock festival, charging admission, to raise money for the studio. When searching for investors, they came across an ad, put up by Roberts and Rosenman, and quickly responded, creating the team of organizers who would create one of the largest rock festivals in history. They began organizing the concert: finding a venue, food, musicians, and security. The first to go wrong pertaining to the festival was the location. The town of Wallkill wanted nothing to do with the festival. “No matter how the young men and their lawyers spun it, the citizens of Wallkill did not want a bunch of drugged-out hippies descending on their town. “ (Groovy, n.p.). Ignoring protests and anger from his town, a farmer by the name of Max Yasgur heard of the cancelation of venue and offered up his 600-acre farm in Bethel, NY as the new, and official, venue of the festival. With little time to prepare the new site, organizers began setting up as fast as they could. Contracts to rent the dairy farm and surrounding areas had to be drawn up, and permits to allow the Woodstock Festival had to be acquired, along with construction of the stage, a performers’ pavilion, parking lots, concession stands, and a children’s playground all had to be finished in the half month they had.
On top of the short time to set up the event, a day before the festival was to open, security for the event had canceled. Luckily, organizers were able to convince a New Mexico commune, who had already agreed to provide free food and medical services to attendees, to become the security for the event. Along with limited security, more problems began to arise. The estimation of attendees jumped from 50,000 to 200,000, causing a shortage of food, water, and toiletries, which would need to be obtained before the festival opened. Two days before the festival was scheduled to begin, there were so many people already arriving and setting up camp before all the gates were set up, the organizers decided that the festival would be free. With all the planning and hours spent to make the event possible, nothing could have prepared the creators for what was about to happen within the next three days.
On August 15, 1969 “long-haired, blue-jeaned and barefooted, 200,000 rock musicians poured into this tiny Catskill Mountain community…