By KLAUDIA ŁĄCZYŃSKA
It was the 15th August 1969 when the most cult music festival in the history took place took place at a dairy farm in Bethel, New York. About 400.000 people took part in those „3 days of peace & music” that would be listed by the Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 as one of 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.
Four young men, of whom the oldest was only 27 years old in 1969, stand behind the success of the festival: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Mike Lang. Their dream was to build a recording studio for rock musicians in Woodstock, in a city were such people as Bob Dylan already lived. Their main target was obviously to earn money that would enable them to fulfill their goal. They thought they were able to build a capital based on the tickets sale, so they decided to organize a music festival. It was meant to be a two-day event for about 50.000 people.
Of course that was not that easy and very soon they faced difficulties. Though the tickets were ready and the musicians were invited, the town of Wallkill, where Woodstock was to take place in, passed on the 2nd July a law that banned the event as their citizens didn’t want it. There was little time left and Woodstock was open to question. Luckily, the organizers found a new location – Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. That didn’t mean the end of their problems, though. Apparently, then they expected 200.000 people to arrive, so they needed more food, toilets, and, of course, security. They didn’t manage to do it all, so for example ticket booths and gates weren’t finished.
Due to a huge number of people that arrived the organizers had to make the festival a free event as it was impossible to check each person without the gates. Then the news that you don’t have to pay to attend Woodstock spread throughout America and even more people wanted to participate in it. About half a million made it to the festival, because of that the traffic was terrible and people just left their cars in the middle of the highway and artists had to be transferred from their hotels to the stage with helicopters. People had to wait hours to use toilets or get some water, there were two cases of death (one person died due overdose of drugs, the other one was… run over by a tractor) and many said that it was the most chaotic event they ever attended, the festival was still a great success.
The organizers didn’t fulfill their plan – instead of getting a capital, they ended up with an incredible dept of over $1 million and 70 lawsuit filed against them. Luckily the film about Woodstock was successful, so they could cover a big part of their dept.The 25th anniversary of the Festival took place in Saugerties, New York in 1994. About 300.000 people attended it.
According to the latest news, the festival’s promoter, Michael Lang, has some plans for the 50th anniversary that would take place in 2019. The Woodstock Festival was a perfect place for American hippies. There was sex, there was nudity, there were drugs and, of course, there was rock’n’roll. It was the festival of youth, freedom, peace and love.