Road to Woodstock

Road to Woodstock

Road to Woodstock

March 29, 1969
Road to Woodstock
photo by J Shelley
Many people visit the town of Woodstock, NY to find the Yargur's farm because the oft told, but inaccurate, story about the Woodstock Music and Art Fair is that the town of Woodstock threw out Woodstock Venture's request to hold the Fair in the town.
Keep in mind that Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld's original idea (one that Kornfeld has said was actually his wife's idea) was to create a recording studio in Woodstock. Many musicians lived in, near, or often visited the town. 

Though Bob Dylan was the most notable among those musicians, Bob's band, The Band, others included Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, John Sebastian, and even Jimi Hendrix.
Lang and Kornfeld had proposed the studio idea to John Roberts and Joel Rosenman in early February.  Their company, Woodstock Ventures, formed on February 28, 1969 (legally minus Kornfeld who was under contract to Capital Records). Their idea was:
  1. a recording studio in Woodstock
  2. a music festival in nearby Saugerties (~ 10 miles away)
In a month, things happened quickly regarding the festival's site.

 

  1. March 29, 1969, Michael Lang had found a suitable site in Saugerties, NY right off the NY Thruway. On this date, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman met with a Mr Holmes, the lawyer for the site’s owner, Mr Shaler. The lawyer emphatically told Roberts and Rosenman that the site was not for rent for such a purpose.
  2. March 30, 1969, after the Saugerties refusal, Roberts and Rosenman spoke to Howard Mills about a piece of land in Wallkill, NY that Mills was going to develop. Mills agreed to rent the site for the festival.
You will notice that the town of Woodstock was not part of the festival's picture. It did not "refuse" or "kick out" Woodstock Ventures. And the owner of the proposed Saugerties site simply refused.
In other words. The...

Road to Woodstock

was actually the...

Road to Wallkill

which actually led to the...

Road to Bethel

Road to Woodstock
photo by J Shelley

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9 thoughts on “Road to Woodstock”

  1. Would we be in Bethel?????
    I often think what would have happened if Howard Mills gave Max speech to the Wallkill board-
    “I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly. . . I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government. However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival. ”
    — addressing a Bethel town board prior to the festival
    and the permit was approved?
    Some say the historic site and museum would be in Wallkill but they would have been better prepared-fences,water,camping,roads (no 17b easier to get in and OUT)etc. since they had 2months instead of 3 weeks. Also the weather! We all know that there is a big difference between Bethel and Wallkill .

    1. Thanks (as always) Charlie! Interesting to wonder whether….I don’t know what the area surrounding the Wallkill site was like in 1969, but my sense is that it wasn’t nearly as rural as the Bethel site. Yasgur’s farm fit the Woodstock Venture’s idea for the festival better than the Wallkill site.

    1. It basically sits in the north east corner of the Rt 17/I 84 intersection. Now called “Scotchtown.” Howard Mills had intended to develop it and he did. Mostly residential. It even has a Woodstock Lane!https://www.google.com/maps/@41.4716768,-74.3675778,3a,75y,126.37h,63.09t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s9ovp8txyoWS-6cqEnfxKQQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    1. It wasn’t closed for exactly the reason you are saying. Too far away. Arlo Guthrie made that statement during his set and his set was Friday evening. I drove up on Friday evening and used the Thruway. He and others (think of the kids game “telephone”) probably heard that the main road (17B) was closed and after several humorous re-tellings morphed into the “Thruway is closed, man!”

  2. Keep up the great work Jim! I know of the history of it all in terms of locations and all that …….. but it sounds way better and easier to understand the way you have it written!

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