On June 2, The Museum at Bethel Woods will open on the site where the 3-days long Woodstock Music and Art Fair happened 40 years ago. The museum will include concert memorabilia, stories, multi-media experiences, and cultural highlights of war protests, fashion and much about the 1960s.
This was the time of Flower Power, war protests, and people looking for ways to self-actualize. Of course, some folks just wanted to hear some mighty fine music. Consider the line up that included: Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Blood Sweat and Tears, The Band, Joan Baez, Jimmy Hendrix, etc. etc. etc.
Although, the name of the concert was Woodstock, it wasn’t actually held in the town of that name, but 43 miles away in Bethel at the 600-acre pasture of Max Yasgur’s farm. The town of Woodstock came up with ordinances to prevent the concert from happening there, so the farm became the happening place. Despite the rain, 440,000 people gathered. For many, the concert symbolized their quest for freedom and hope.
For an in depth history of the concert, check out this Web site, “1969 Woodstock Festival and Concert.” It includes a Times Herald-Record article by Elliot Tiber that details how the event came to be with insider type tales.
Already there is the Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts on the property so the museum will be a companion to that. It is hoped that the museum will bring much needed dollars to Sullivan County. Although, I’ve been to Woodstock–the town that is in Ulster County several times, I haven’t been to this version. Now that there’s the museum, I’ll make the trip.
The museum looks like it will be fantastic. For some, perhaps it will be a trip down memory lane. For others a history lesson. Anyone who loves the mix of social issues, politics and music should think about heading here. Pair the trip with a stop in Woodstock, the actual town. The two are companion pieces in a way, and the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York is absolutely splendid–even if all you do is drive around on the narrow, windy Ulster County or Sullivan County roads.
Here’s a tip, when on a windy county road in upstate New York, slow down on curves when it’s raining, Otherwise, you can sail off into a ditch with the undercarriage of the car scraping on pavement. I know; it happened.