August 21, 2013 —
BETHEL, NY — Forty-four years after the last chords echoed in the air, the legacy of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair still lingers over Sullivan County. The original festival, billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm, where 32 acts performed outdoors for more than 400,000 hippies and is “widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history.” (www.wikipedia.com ) Rolling Stone magazine listed the event as one of the “50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock and Roll.”
Each year at this time, thousands flock to Bethel to pay homage to the festival. Some are alumni and make the pilgrimage annually, while many visitors represent a new generation, seeking to bask in the afterglow of Woodstock’s allure. Now the home of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the on-site museum’s permanent exhibit, “The Story of the Sixties and Woodstock,” is “highly interactive and consists of audio/visual experiences, informative displays, and a collection of artifacts.” (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ) No visit to the area is complete without a stop at Hector’s Inn on Dr. Duggan Rd, where regulars and tourists mix, swapping stories about the legendary performers who have sat at the bar. Across the road, the campground swells with hundreds of tents and colorful vans filled with folks, hugging and reminiscing, while expressing the sentiment that rings in the air—“Welcome Home.”
A few miles away, the Yasgur Road Reunion reigned supreme, especially poignant following the deaths of Woodstock-era legends Richie havens (see page 5) and Roy Howard earlier this year. Howard’s name could be heard in hushed tones throughout the wooded acres as bands performed, drum circles convened and a video montage of Roy’s memorial played across a giant screen on the main stage at what is now known as the Yasgur Farm. While many may be gone, none will be forgotten and the spirit of Woodstock lives on.
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