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The Woodstock Music and Art Fair. By Jeffrey Maglish. Background .

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The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held from, August 15 to August 18, 1969. It was sold as “An Aquarian ( age of Aquarius) Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music.” It was held on Max Yasgur’s 600 acre farm near Bethel, New York. This was one of the most influential arts festivals of its time, with over 500,000 in attendance, its considered a pivotal moment in music and popular culture, and has even been named as one of Rolling Stone’s “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll”

  • Woodstock was, interestingly enough, never supposed to be a music festival, but rather an outdoor retreat recording studio in Woodstock, New York. The financers were acquired via an ad in The New York Times, which read, “We are looking for Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” The ad was placed by John Roberts, and Joel Rosenman, and was answered by Michael Lang, and Artie Kornfield. They envisioned a much smaller music festival with musicians from the Woodstock area, ( Bob Dylan, ect).

While the four men who founded. Woodstock, had separate views on how business in conducted, they all realized, eventually it had to be conducted and after a short period where the financiers were unhappy and about to pull the plug on the venture they got the break they were looking for. In April, 1969 The supergroup Creedence Clearwater Revival who signed onto the project for 10,000$. The singing of such an influential group at the time gave the festival enough inertia to take off, almost immediately after CCR signed on, other big name acts jumped on the chance to play in the festival.


The Woodstock planners had a venue lined up for what was originally planned to be a moderately sized music concert. It was to be held in the Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill, New York. That property was leased priory in 1969, for the event for 10,000$. Various town members who were against the project, went to the city hall to try and get the project shut down, they succeeded by stating the outhouses used for the festival would not meet town code.

new venue
New Venue

Elliot Tiber a resident of Bethel, New York contacted Lang, and his associates after he herd that the original local was axed. He said they could have the festival on his property, of only 15 acres in a bid to get tourism into Bethel. Lang told Tiber that the property was simply too small, where after a bit of negation and Lang’s travel to Bethel that is was settled that the venue was to be held on Max Yasger’s 600 acre farm right outside Bethel.

Elliot Tiber, Present Day

free festival
Free Festival

Merely day before the festival the organizers of Woodstock were forced into a sort of problem. They had sold 186,000 tickets for the concert, but there were an estimated 200,000 more on the way. With the change in venue organizers felt they had two options, improve on the security of the festival, or open the gates letting everybody in for free. They let everyone in, taking a financial blow and making it a free festival for thousands.

the concert
The Concert

With thousands of people flooding New York from all directions of the United States, roads leading to the festival were jammed for days as far away as Manhattan. This led to Governor Rockefeller attempting to send 10,000 troops from the National Guard to the festival, but was persuaded against it by Roberts. Sullivan county was considered a state of emergency, as people flooded Bethel waiting for the concert to start.

the music
The Music

The musical performances of the festival lasted for three days without hiatus. With such big named acts as The Who beginning their set at 4 a.m. Of the acts that played were, Janice Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane. The one performance that everyone remembers though, is Jimmy Hendrix’s performance where he performed his staple songs to the festival’s irrevocable end.


All in all most concert goers were immensely satisfied by the festival and claim it to be one of the most influential events of their lives. This was a celebration of the free idealistic thinking of the 1960’s. It cumulated all of the counterculture into three days that the attendees of the concert would never forget. The Woodstock Music and Art Festival will always hold a place in our cultural history.