The sixties were renowned for their advances in the way we perceived our society. We made changes in the way we thought of black people, of women, and the way we perceived the structure of our society. All this was spearheaded by the youth, the youth that wanted change. The warmongering nation of America was being criticized by the American youth, who demanded a pacifistic approach to things.
It was during this time that an alternative group, known as the hippies, emerged. The pacifistic people were also formed through the American youth, but took a slightly different approach. Rather than protesting all day, these people preferred to kick back and relax, smoke a joint or two, and listen to some psychedelic rock. This culture eventually collaborated with one another, and started forming what would later be one of the largest music festivals ever attended.
The idea came through the joint efforts of Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman and Artie Kornfeld. Together, they worked to create what they hoped would be the largest music festival. But mostly, the festival was done so the organizers could run a profit, which would turn out to be ironic, given the types of people they ended up attracting.
Ticket sales went well and the organizers were estimating around 200.000 people attending. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances of the local city council—or town board, as it was known back then—namely them disallowing the venue chosen, the organizers were forced to abandon their plans of holding the event in the Mills Industrial Park. But news of the ban trickled down the lines, and soon enough, people got wind of the giant festival that was about to take place.
Because of the huge increase in interest, the organizers had to make a choice. They felt like they had two choices. They could either increase fencing and security, keeping the surplus of visitors outside, but it had the option of sparking violence. The other option was simply putting the remaining capital that Woodstock Ventures had, towards finishing the stage, and allowing free entry.
With around 450.000 attendees, the festival was filled with chaos and commotion. But when the dust settled, and the people looked back on their weekend, people unanimously agreed that they had witnessed history. The Woodstock music festival was the pinnacle of what the hippies stood for: peace, love and music. The ‘60s were defined by a lot of things, but one of the most instantly recognizable ones, is Woodstock, and with good reason.
Written by Boudewijn Verleg