News

    Woodstock Festival Remembered 40 Years Later

    It is 40 years this weekend since almost half a million young Americans took over the small town of Bethel, New York to attend a three-day rock festival that became known as "Woodstock." Originally planned for Woodstock, New York - that's how the festival got its name - it was ultimately moved to the small town of Bethel, New York. Many expected violence with such huge numbers, but they were to be surprised.

    To many, this place is considered sacred ground. It is the location of the famous Woodstock festival, which took place 40 years ago this weekend. The farmland was owned by Max Yasgur, a dairy farmer, who died years later. His son Sam says immediately after giving permission for the concert, opposition arose.

    "Signs started going up 'Don't Buy Yasgur's Milk. Yasgur Loves Hippies.' And that made dad mad," Sam Yasgur recalled.

    Duke Devlin, a self-described hippie, was hitchhiking in the area, and read about the upcoming festival.

    "There was going to be an Indian Village and a Petting Zoo and Arts and Crafts," he said. "And on the bottom it said 'breathe air that's never been breathed' before so it was all this cool stuff."

    Hundreds of thousands came. Every single road in this area was mobbed. Then on August 15, the concert that would define a generation began.  

    Richie Havens, the first performer, took a helicopter in because of the crowds.

    "When I looked down and I saw all the colors, I went 'oh-oh.' Every human being was represented," he noted. "If the newspapers get this shot, we've won."

    Teenagers, like Zeke Boyle and Joe Dipone came because they felt alienated from their parent's generation.  

    "When I went to Woodstock I saw all these kindred souls," he said. "It just made me feel like I wasn't alone in the wilderness out there. There was a credence to the movement. It empowered me and made me think "wow we are a force to be reckoned with."

    Some came for other reasons.

    "There was a lot of free love," said Jeff Corwin. "The pond is at the back of us and that is where they were all skinny dipping. Everybody was into everybody. It was a magical time for lack of a better term."

    "It was all your Christmases, all your Chanukahs, all your birthdays in one weekend," Duke Devlin said. "If I found something to eat, I ate it. If I found something to smoke I smoked it. If I found a place to snooze a little, I did it."
     
    As the crowds grew, people had nowhere to go.  

    "You wouldn't be able to see the grass on these fields because of the bodies all over the ground," said Sam Yasgur. "Farmers couldn't get milk trucks in, so they had to throw the milk out, down the drain. What you had just dumped was your livelihood."

    Yasgur says everyone expected violence. Instead the locals befriended the concertgoers.  

    "Here you have invaders, people who were kind of strange and the people in this county said these are hungry kids and people all over rallied to bring them water and food," he added. "The people rallied to help these kids. We had all the ingredients of a perfect storm but instead it became an organic melding of calming and peace."  

    Remarkably there was no serious violence at the site. In fact many of the kids stayed back to clean up. Some like Duke Devlin, the hippie who had been hitchhiking in the area, never left. Today he is a tour guide for the Bethel Center for the Arts.

    "You know they asked me to do this," he said. "They actually pay me to do this, to be a 'Site Interpreter.' What they don't know is I would do it for a Twinkie and a Yoo-Hoo. I just love dealing with the people. I came here for three days and I got 40 years of a wonderful life here."

    August 15 marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival. Duke Devlin will be out again talking about the place he loves.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.