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Woodstock Seen Through A 4 Decade Haze
The legendary status of the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art and Aquarian Exposition held in August 1969 is indisputable not only in the entire history of music but in all of history in the United States of America. This was the time when the Woodstock Nation was able to establish itself in the American psyche through the festival of "three days of music and peace," and more than four decades later, it still remains a seminal time which has shaped a whole generation and beyond.
The very first idea by the promoters was to have approximately 100,000 music lovers camping out on an open field in upstate New York in order to enjoy a full weekend of superlative popular rock and folk music as well as carnival rides. The first site chosen was set to be in Wallkill, New York, but the permits were denied by the local authorities. With an announced concert festival and nowhere to hold it, the promoters scrambled like crazy until they were able to secure Yasgur's Farm in Bethel, New York. Interestingly, the festival wasn't held anywhere near Woodstock, New York, most certainly not within easy walking distance!
It was a logistics failure of the promoters who did not manage to fence off the entire site quickly enough for the week-end concert that was primarily responsible for the enormous turnout. WNEW-FM and a few other underground music stations in NYC started to announce that the festival was free and open to all which began the massive pilgrimage to White Lake, closing down every road way for well over a dozen miles around and creating what after NYC and Buffalo was the largest city in New York State! History recorded that just under two million people in total arrived at the muddy, dusty gates of the festival, but barely half a million souls or so stayed for three historic days of music and peace. Bad news for the promoters was that barely 25% of the attendees had actually paid for their tickets.
It is the predominant view by historians of the period that the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art and Aquarian Exposition held in that faraway August in 1969 proved to be the climax of an "Age of Aquarius" instead of the launch. The Age of Aquarius was supposed to be one of peace, understanding and bliss, and instead we can look back on those past four decades and discover that it was time when the vast majority of Americans lost their innocence and hope for the future.
The new term that was bandied around to describe the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art and Aquarian Exposition was "Be-in," and then later it morphed into "Love - in," which were take offs on the sit - ins that were techniques utilized during the Civil Rights times public protests of the Sixties. The original "Be - in" occurred as the 1966 New Year's Day party at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park as it devoloped from the Trips Festivals and Electric Kool Aid Acid Tests which had become popular in the subculture of the day which was centered in the proximity of San Francisco's Haight - Ashbury district.