Finally back on line so onward as my friend Bob says……………..
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. This week marks the 45th anniversary of a musical milestone and so I am taking you back in time to August 15, 1969. Until then Bethel Woods, New York had been a small village in the mountains about a three hour drive from New York City. Four young partners who were looking for a location for an outdoor music festival changed the town forever. Just thirty one days before their heavily publicized event was scheduled to be held in Wallkill, New York they lost their original location and has to scramble to find another.
The spot they found was on Max Yasker’s farm in Bethel and the event was called The Woodstock Music and Art Fair. In the matter of a week people started pouring into the small rural town and by the opening day of the festival on August 15th over 500,000 people were there making Bethel briefly one of the largest towns in New York State. What followed was three days of peace, love and music that has come to symbolize the 1960s and all the cultural changes that took place during that era.
As you regular readers probably know, when I discover something new I can get carried away with all the details. This may be one of those times but I hope you will find this interesting nonetheless.
Today the Museum at Bethel Woods sits on the grounds of the festival. The not-for-profit museum was created by the vision of one man who also had a lot of money. Alan Gerry was a cable vision pioneer who wanted to preserve the original site and who also wanted to help the local residents of one of the poorest counties in New York State. Gerry bought the property and seventeen thousand acres surrounding it. The land, combined with seventeen million dollars, was used to launch the Gerry Foundation in 2004 which was the beginning of one of the greatest museums of its kind on earth.
It’s hard to know where to start with all the information about the museum and the grounds. Fifteen thousand people can sit in the outdoor amphitheater for summer concerts and there are four hundred and forty indoor seats for indoor shows. There are also eight hundred acres of manicured grounds where the actual festival took place. The museum hosts concerts, community workshops and all kinds of educational programs on art, history and culture. In the true spirit of Woodstock, most of these events are free.
Bethel Woods has become a premier venue for big name entertainers and everyone from Bob Dylan to Elton John has played here. I was most impressed with the 6,728 foot exhibition hall which showcases thousands of objects that take you back to a changing time. When I was there twenty different films about the ’60s were available to watch as well.
In celebration of next week’s anniversary, Santana will return along with Crosby, Stills and Nash and John Fogarty from Credence Clearwater. There will also be a free showing of the director’s uncut version of the award winning documentary about Woodstock on a giant screen and everyone I spoke with expected it to be a great party.
Before I go off to meditate I have a few more interesting facts about Woodstock. Of the estimated half million people who attended, only two hundred people were arrested for drug offense. As many people were barefoot, foot injuries were common. There were two deaths, one from a drug overdose and one that occurred when a person sleeping in a pasture was run over by a tractor. Richie Havens wrote his signature song Freedom on the spot and by time Jimi Hendrix took the stage on Sunday there were n 35,000 still there.
Till next week and with more from Woodstock, I’ll see ya down the road…
P.S. The Will Rogers and Wiley Post Fly-in is coming up on August 17th at Dog Iron Ranch in Oolagah. Mark your calendars for this fun, family friendly event!