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Imagine a rock concert with nearly half a million people present. An unorganized event that created chaos, one of the nation's worst traffic jams, and a place in history. Woodstock lasted three days during which there was insufficient food, toilets, medical care, security and drug problems. Woodstock is the most famous of all rock fests, a symbol for the youth culture of the 1960s. It was the last gasp of youthful idealism and a symbolic high point for the 1960s generation.
Woodstock had all different types of people present. There were anti-war protesters, Vietnam veterans, anti-gays, gays and lesbians, legalize drug advocates, ban drug advocates, anti-government advocates, and pro-government advocates, just to say a few. However, there were only two deaths, according to police reports. (Utopian Sound Associates, ) Thousands of people left Woodstock with a very different outlook on life.
The music began on Friday afternoon, August 15 and continued until mid-morning, Monday August 18, 1969. A huge variety of bands performed during those three chaotic days. Bands such as, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Greatful Dead, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and many others.(Layman, "American Decades: 1960-1969" Pg. 40-41) Each day was supposed to have a set schedule of performers and songs however, that never happened. It got to the point where, who ever could set up the fastest would play next. Music had to be continuously going or there was fear of riots. In addition, many of the performers were drinking and on drugs so they just played whatever came to mind, forgetting their set lists.
Woodstock cost more than 2.4 million dollars (Tiber, "How Woodstock Happened" Pg. 1) and was sponsored by four very different men: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Michael Lang. Ticket booths never arrived therefore; Woodstock never collected a single dollar at the gate. The only money made was from the presale tickets and beer and soda sales.
On July 18, 1969, the perfect land was finally found for the site of Woodstock. It was a 600-acre hog farm owned by Max Yasgur, located in Bethel, New York, and extended along Route 17B. (Tiber, "How Woodstock Happened" Pg. 2) "It was magic," Lang said. "It was perfect. The sloping bowl, a little rise for the stage. A lake in the background. The deal was sealed right there in the field "
About two AM on Tuesday morning, August 12, 1969 there was already five lanes of headlights.
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By the afternoon of Thursday, August 14, 1969, 25,000 people had already arrived. (Tiber, Pg. 4) Some made shelters, the "Responsible-looking" people were made into security, and stands were ready to sell souvenirs such as hand woven belts, drug paraphernalia, and headbands. Friday August 15, the food had begun to run out due to the traffic jam that blocked deliveries. It was estimated that they needed donations of 750,000 sandwiches. Food was being airlifted in from as far as Newburgh's Stewart Air Force Base.
Around midnight that Friday, it started to rain. About five inches of rain fell in just three hours and a nearby stream started to rise. (Tiber, Pg. 4) The storm did not let up until Saturday morning and the sun finally popped out. The mud smelled of hashish, soaked sleeping bags were mixed in with cellophane, cigarette butts, and lost clothes.
Medical issues had begun. Mary Sanderson, a forty-year-old nurse from Middletown, was flown in along with any other nurses that would join. She divided a large tent into three wards for drugs, cut feet, and burnt eyes. The bad trip/freak out section had the most patients. The next section was for the hundreds that cut their feet on broken glass and pop-tops. The third section was for those who took drugs and would lie on their backs to stare at the sun. (Tiber, Pg. 5)
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By noon Sunday August 17, the sun was beating down and heatstroke was the biggest worry. Around five PM it started to storm again. Everyone was ready to leave but there was no way out. Many could not find their cars and friends. Kids were camping out on people's lawns with nothing to eat and nowhere to relieve themselves. Neighbors began to feed them and even set up a soup kitchen. Sunday was supposed to be the last day of Woodstock but it continued until Monday August 18, 1969. When the music was over people began to find their cars and leave. Those who lost their friends made new ones and rode home with them.
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Stanley, Adam. Woodstock. 2 Nov. 2006. 21 Feb. 2007 .
Tiber, Elliot. How Woodstock Happened. 1994. The Times Herald-Record.
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Utopian Sound Associates. The Woodstock Story. 8 April 2001. Utopian Sound. 21 Feb. 2007 .
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