1969 brought 500,000 Baby Boomers to Hurd Road in the Township of Bethel, NY. Bethel is located in Sullivan County, NY.
Like locusts, the massive gathering swayed and buzzed, hummed and ate everything in sight on that Mid-August weekend. The music blared, a baby or two was born, multi colored clothes, bare skin, and good natured stoned behavior made the extravaganza the biggest party of a generation.
I only heard about it. I was 18 and working on hangar doors at the commercial transport area of Kennedy airport. Heard the advertisements for some crazy rock and roll show for August 15th and figured I had better things to do. That was a colossal “miss the boat” mistake for me– One I’ve always regretted.
The wildness, the adventure of gathering with so many kindred spirits simultaneously—what an experience I missed. It was about the music and some idealistic views that blossomed into the most materialistic generation of record.
Now Woodstock is Bethel Woods—a beautifully manicured venue brought forth by the good graces of a business magnate with imagination and community zest. The wild hay fields now hold a Rock and Roll museum, amphitheatre, and performances of varied pitch and hue.
Attendees still light up and purple haze drifts through the throng of folks drinking. The sound of music is superb. Not like Julie Andrews nice—but bass pounding loud, or soft and light when the NY Philharmonic plays.
Woodstock is no longer wild. It’s been tamed and civilized. It’s polite. Law officers direct traffic, answer tourista questions, and keep an eye on things without interfering much with “partying”.
Bethel Woods is hip, it’s cool, but it isn’t much of an adventure. It’s a place to bring your kids, your spouse, the parents. You can’t rip your shirt or blouse off or skinny dip in the fountain. The monument to 1969 counter culture boomers rests peacefully at the intersection of Hurd and West Shore Roads.
Come up and enjoy a cultured look at a once wild, wide eyed generation icon affording Coors Light at $12.00 a can, varied musical entertainment, plenty of parking. It may not be wild, but it is delightful.