WWD's 1969 Coverage of Woodstock: A Weekend Trip

The biggest gentlest gathering imaginable. Like lemmings they came, drawn to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, uncomplaining and docile.


WHAT THEY WERE REALLY DOING was showing the more conventional world that they could make it—drug scene and all—eating, sleeping, loving—on a plane where the more practical aspects of life were simply not that important.

Said one sympathetic observer: “Most of the kids came to listen to the music, and they did, but they were so naïve…many came with just the clothes on their back and a bottle of pills and expected Providence to provide for them. Providence didn’t, but some of the local folk were absolutely marvelous. And the spirit of sharing what little everyone had was apparent everywhere.

“There was strong resentment over the lack of organization by the promoters. They just didn’t plan anything and gave the idea beforehand that everything would be well organized. The kids who spent $21 for three-day tickets were understandably sore when they saw so many go in for nothing, and it was because the promoters didn’t have the fences completely built. There was no provision for removing garbage, not enough toilets and those they had were overflowing, and most of all we suffered for the lack of water. But they came for the music and they heard, despite the fact that the amplification was terrible. I guess I’d do it again, but I’d do it differently next time and come better prepared.”

THE FACT THAT MANY WOULD DO IT again speaks for their determination, if not necessarily for their judgment and sense of responsibility.

By Sunday, some of the strain was beginning to tell. The Saturday concert had ended 9 a.m. Sunday with intermittent halts during the night, and many were worried about getting home. Some stayed and many left. Reluctantly, they tore themselves away, as if waking from an only too brief dream.

The site of the festival was just a few miles from the Ten Mile River Boy Scout camps and Daytop Village, a narcotics treatment center.

And Bethel means House of the Lord.


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