August 18, 1969: Woodstock Music Festival Ends
From BBC home’s “On This Day”
About 186,000 tickets were sold so promoters anticipated that around 200,000 would turn up. But on Friday night, the flimsy fences and ticket barriers had come down and organisers announced the concert was free prompting thousands more to head for the concert. Traffic jams eight miles long blocked off the area near White Lake, near Bethel, some 50 miles from the town of Woodstock.
“These people are really beautiful.” – Dr William Abruzzi, chief medical officer
Local police estimated a million people were on the road yesterday trying to get to Woodstock. They were overwhelmed by the numbers but were impressed by a good level of behaviour. The festival’s chief medical officer, Dr William Abruzzi told Rolling Stone magazine: “These people are really beautiful. There has been no violence whatsoever which is really remarkable for a crowd of this size.”
Rainstorms failed to dampen the spirits of the revellers, many high on marijuana, some dancing naked in the now muddy fields. The main organiser, 49-year-old dairy farmer Max Yasgur, who provided $50,000 and 600 acres of his land, addressed the crowds on the last day of the event. “You have proven something to the world… that half a million kids can get together for fun and music and have nothing but fun and music.”
There were however two deaths – a teenager was killed by a tractor as he lay in his sleeping bag and another died from a drugs overdose.
Woodstock, a holiday centre and artists’ colony, had held an arts and music fair since 1906 but the 1969 Woodstock festival made the town world famous.
A film of the concert was release the following year and Woodstock became synonymous with flower power, the hippie culture and anti-Vietnam war proteststhat dominated the 1970s.
The “Woodstock generation” look back on the event with nostalgia and an anniversary Woodstock festival was held in 1994.
But the second – highly commercialised – anniversary concert in July 1999 ended in riots, fires and at least eight allegations of rape.
- 1969 Woodstock: 3 Days That Made Music History (psychedelichippiemusic.blogspot.com)
- Woodstock – The Message of History’s Biggest Happening (time.com)
- Woodstock Helped Us Get Through ‘Nam (prweb.com)