Woodstock began with four men, an unused fortune, and a hair-brained scheme. Mike Lang, Joel Rosenman, John Roberts and Artie Kornfeld dreamed of creating a recording studio where great musical minds such as Bob Dylan already lived: Woodstock, New York. The problem? Roberts’ fortune was not substantial enough to pull off the recording studio the men envisioned. The solution? The greatest music festival in history. Of course, Roberts, Kornfeld, Rosenman and Lang never intended to put on one of the best shows to date– they merely sought to hold a music festival and use the proceeds to build their desired facility.
The show was set to be held at Wallkill, New York, but as you can imagine, the townsfolk were less than receptive to the idea of thousands of rank-smelling, unhygienic “free spirits” running around in their town. The four men, having already sold many tickets, immediately began searching for a new venue, but with the time between them and the festival dwindling, the prospect of a mass refund was not far off.
Luckily, in July of 1969, Max Yasgur agreed to rent his sizable farm in Bethel, New York for the festival venue. Roberts, Kornfeld, Rosenman and Lang were ecstatic to have secured a location, but immediately began to run into more issues. Necessities such as gates, parking lots, ticket booths, concessions, restrooms and the like were late to be put together and some were left totally unfinished.
Aside from the lack of amenities, the original estimate of attendees— somewhere around 50,000— was wildly incorrect. Somewhere near 250,000 people were set to attend, but when the gates and ticket booths failed to be fully operational, the concert was opened free to the public, which drew a some 1,000,000 people to Woodstock. Of those one million, about 500,000 were able to get to the festival. The roads and highways were clogged with people trying to reach Yasgur’s dairy farm.
All setbacks aside, the concert itself went very smoothly; it began on time, and didn’t stop until Sunday morning. Artists such as Janice Joplin, Santana, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix all played for the enormous crowd, rain or shine (although it was mostly rain, which created absurd amounts of mud). There was a surplus of drugs used at the event, an alarming amount of nudity, and a great deal of (hopefully good) sex.
Unwittingly, Roberts, Kornfeld, Rosenman and Lang had created the greatest music festival in history.
Makarechi, Kia. “13 Things You Didn’t Know About Woodstock.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. <http:// www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/25/woodstock-trivia_n_4334870.html>.
Rosenberg, Jennifer. “The Woodstock Festival of 1969.” The Woodstock Festival of 1969. About Education, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://history1900s.about.com/od/1960s/p/ woodstock.htm>.