- 50 Years Passed, Peace Forever -
Fifty years ago, in the summer of ‘69, thousands of like-minded souls gathered for a celebration of peace, love, and music. Though the tie-dye, bell bottom, and fringe-clad free-spirits may not have known it as they were stepping off their VW buses onto the concert grounds, they were about to take part in a festival that will live on forever!
Throw on your grooviest tie-dye, some bell-bottom jeans, listen to some Janis and Jimi, and step back in time to Woodstock for this quick recount in celebration of the 50th anniversary of this magical event!
When this festival was being conceived, the original plan was for it to take place in Wallkill, New York, but after locals panicked over the scale of the project, the event was banned. This only brought more attention to the event, which organizers originally assured would only draw 50,000 attendees. Needing a new venue for the event, promoters were introduced to dairy farmer Max Yasgur. His 600-acre farm in Bethel Woods, NY, just about 40 miles southwest of Woodstock, became the site for the historic event.
With this late change in venue leaving organizers to scramble to prepare, they had to choose between building the stage or putting up fences and ticket booths. As tens of thousands of flower children braved hours of traffic jams and flocked to the farm, the decision was made for them. Those who hadn’t paid the $18 for advance tickets got to experience the three days of music for free!
Despite sporadic rain, upwards of 400,000 mud-covered free souls moved to the music of 32 acts during the three days of the festival. Promoters had trouble booking big-names for the event until Creedence Clearwater Revival was the first band to sign in April of ’69. Once they signed, other acts jumped on the bus. Legends included: Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, The Who, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix- just to name a few who graced the stage.
Joan Baez was six months pregnant during her performance, the Dead’s set was cut short after the amps on stage overloaded during "Turn On Your Love Light," and Hendrix closed the show early Monday morning with his psychedelic rendition of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" which segued into "Purple Haze." This moment is memorialized in this awesome t-shirt featuring Jimi shredding in front of the flag.
The peaceful white dove perched on the neck of an acoustic guitar is an iconic symbol of the festival and its everlasting impact on hippie culture. We all recognize this iconic image, but not many of us know the artist who is responsible for it. We’re sure that when artist Arnold Skolnick was approached by Woodstock Ventures with just three days and $15 to design a poster for the festival, he had no idea his simple design would become such a timeless symbol of the celebration of peace, love, and music the event represented.
His peaceful dove and guitar now grace t-shirts, tapestries, stickers, mugs and more, reminding everyone who sees it to take a second out of their chaotic lives to hold on to the harmony, love, and everlasting peace from the summer of ’69!
Woodstock exemplified the free love counterculture of the ’60s and '70s like no other event in history. Whether you were one of the lucky souls to be there (or a self-proclaimed flower child who wishes they could have been), those three magical days represent the peace and love which will live on in our hearts forever!