Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bethel, New York Home of Woodstock '69

In the middle of August 1969 the rural community of Bethel, New York received several unexpected guests. Several hundred thousand if you wish to be accurate. Between August 15 through the 18th this small farming community became one of the largest cities in New York state. The Woodstock Music and Arts festival attracted over half a million attendees. Something the young unexperienced promoters weren't prepared for. Instead of violence, melee, and mayhem. The crowd showed the world how peace, love, and harmony could still exist in a cruel world. Woodstock proved to be a celebration this generation desperately needed, and created a feeling of hope, at least for a few days.

The town of Bethel where Woodstock was held is a very small farming community located in the Catskill mountains. Think of the smallest town you can. That place is a metropolis compared to Bethel, New York. The town mainly consists of farms, the exact place where Woodstock was held. Local farmer Max Yasgur gave promoters permission to use his 600 acre farm as a hosting grounds for the festival. The unprepared town eventually got swarmed with massive traffic jams, backing up automobiles  through upstate New York for hours.

The concert promoters made Woodstock such a huge event, by there who's who list of musicians who appeared. As word spread about the size and the population of the concert, other artists were quickly trying to visit the tiny hamlet of Bethel. Contrary to the masses Woodstock went off without too many problems, there were very few acts of violence, but many random acts of love helped to define Woodstock as one of the top 50 moments that changed the history of rock-n-roll.

In 1997 the site of the concert and a subsequent 1,400 acres were purchased to celebrate the 3 days of peace and music. Eventually in 2008 the Bethel center for Arts opened. The facility hosts a number of concerts throughout the year and also houses a 1960's museum. The museum focuses more on the events that took place during the 1960's, and how Woodstock was the culminating event of a generation attempting to promote love and harmony throughout the world.

Meandering through the fields surrounding the arts center provides a very surreal feeling. I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and emotion as I strolled the grounds, making me feel hopeful for the world. And as I trounced across the land where the stage had stood I couldn't help but imagine a sea of like minded people all sharing in the music and love that was provided. Than I imagined my fantasies of being a rock star, and strutting across stage with a guitar slung around my neck. As I climbed back into my vehicle and headed back down highway 17 I couldn't help but think what a special moment it must've been to have been there. And how subsequent attempts to repeat this peaceful music event have been mired by large corporate entities only concerned with profits and not with love.


Anna said...

Interesting post. I'd like to go there sometime. :)

robert dabler said...

my sis and i were their many moons ago