What Woodstock Was Like

I’m sure Woodstock was different for everyone. With 100’s of acres to roam and over 35 bands to try and see, it was impossible to be in all places all the time. Even the movie only shows a small part of what really happened. It’s more like a cross-section of the events and only shows a small slice.

And even after 40 years it’s amazing how clear many of my memories are. But again I’m sure they are very different from someone else’s.

The point is we may never be able to document the full event. But I admit the new version of the movie turns me on to things I forgot about. It also made me wish I had seen more of the music that I had missed.

“Woodstock was beads and colors and flowers and sunshine and beautiful people.”
John Sebastian

The Woodstock Mud

The Woodstock Mud

And Woodstock was also so much more than the music. It was meeting people, skinny dipping, seeing friends you never expected to see, and watching and feeling “hippiedom” in all its splendor and glory. You ate food from the Hog Farm and saw makeshift shops selling drug paraphernalia and crafts and clothing… things you’d never see back home.

In short it was really cool!

But it was also a big test of your composure and patience. You had to put up with sleeping on the ground and long lines to take a pee and when the rains came… well you got wet and had to deal with the mud.

But somehow it seemed that most people rose above the inconviences. Perhaps we were already higher than them anyway. 😉

“My friend and I drove in from Rochester. When we got there we were amazed at the people. We parked miles away and walked. We weren’t planners, however, and brought very little food with us. We thought there would be concession stands and restaurants in town!”
Cecelia, attendee

Massive Traffic Jam

Of course, eventually the New Your State Thruway was closed, so for many, Woodstock never happened. But for those that made it,  this 40th Anniversary will bring back amazing memories and they will be talking about what Woodstock was like for them. If you’d like to share your story just register and share your story with us here.

In the New Your Times it was reported that roadways were jammed for 20 miles in all directions. So for many, it was more than just The Thruway. People just abandoned their cars and started walking.

Traffic Jam on Happy Avenue

Traffic Jam on Happy Avenue

For me I got to do a lot of walking. I hitched in by myself and I don’t really remember but we got stuck somewhere and I just walked in from there. This was sometime Friday night. By the time I got there I remember listening to Joan Baez in the background as I just looked for a place to crash.

Saturday At Woodstock

Of course I woke up the next day ready for fun. It was time to walk around and check things out. I don’t there was any music playing in the morning so there was time to check out the area. I remember there was a walk through some woods from the camping area to the stage area and along the way you said hi (high) to a lot of people and saw the shops that were set up selling lots of cool stuff.

As you walked through the woods you’d see “street” signs with names like “Groovy Way” and “Gentle Path” and “High Way.” You couldn’t help but feel like you were “home” or at least someplace that felt like home.

Here’s how Eric Strange described the scene…

“Where we had parked our camper and pitched a little tent was, I think, about a ten-minute walk from the big field where the stage was, and that big sort of natural ampitheater place. And so to walk from the music site back to where we were, was like walking through a village. An there were, as I reacall, little paths through the woods…

Naked Runners At Woodstock

Naked Runners At Woodstock

Along these paths, people had set up little market stalls essentially and were selling lots of drugs. But they were also selling other stuff—beadwork, and I don’t know what else—whatever people could think to sell. And there was a whole lot of commercial enterprise going on in the woods. And there were also people having sex in the woods, and wandering lost in the woods, and running naked in the woods. Everything was happening.

But it did have this feeling of being a kind of village center where the music was, and then going back to the more residential areas where people were camped out and getting fed and that sort of thing.”

Once I got settled over on the hill overlooking the stage I started to realize the magnitude of not only the crowd but the whole scene. It really felt like a city as you looked over the hills and saw the tents in the distance and the food tents on the top of the hill. It really was mind-boggling. And I spent the rest of the weekend with a boggled mind.

To be continued…