The Road to Bethel and the Woodstock Festival

The Road to Bethel and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair

The Road to Bethel and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair

July 8, 1969

Woodstock Ventures

          Those of you who have followed this blog already know that despite the notion that Woodstock was the only rock festival in 1969, 1969 was a vary  busy one. By July 8, 11 festivals had happened with nearly 20 to go before the end of the year.

          Woodstock Ventures was simply another group formed to put on another festival. Despite how history today views the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, it was just another one on that long list.

Bumpy Times in Wallkill

             In April, Howard Mills had agreed to rent a piece of property he owned to Woodstock Ventures and the Town of Wallkill had granted necessary permits.

            There are many accounts of the Woodstock Festival. Each has its unique perspective. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that thoroughly organizing such an event is far more important than someone taking notes on everyday's every conversation and keeping a written record of the moment to moment happenings. 

Bob Spitz, Barefoot in Babylon

        Many consider Bob Spitz's Barefoot in Babylon (originally published in 1979; re-released in 1989) one of the better accounts of the days leading up to the famous Fair. Having said that, Spitz relates conversations the organizers had as if he or someone had recorded them. They were not. Based on his research, though, July 8, 1969 was a big day on the road to Bethel and the Woodstock festival.

July 8, 1969

           Providing food for attendees was obviously a priority. Woodstock Ventures had problems finding people or a group to do that job. At a point, the Ventures had arranged for Nathan's hot dogs to provide their food, but on this date  the Middletown Fire Department unanimously turned down a proposal to supply personnel to run Nathan’s food concessions. 

            The fire companies’ membership objected to the long hours Natahan’s had required. Middletown is next to Wallkill, the planned site of the event.  Peter Goodrich, assigned the task,  continued to try to find companies for the festival’s food concession stands. 
The Road to Bethel and the Woodstock Festival
“Scotchtown” was the intended location of the event. Middletown is just south of that Wallkill area. Click on the picture to enlarge.


Fire protection

           On the same day, Wes Pomeroy (security) and Don Ganoung (general assistant) met with the Wallkill fire advisory board to discuss the festival’s  fire protection needs. Instead of evaluating the festival’s requirements and coming to an informal arrangement, the advisory board decided not to act on the proposed plans until the town board asked it do so.

Another Wallkill!

           On the same day,  Joel Rosenman,  one of the four Woodstock Venture organizers, received a letter from Margaret Y Tremper, the deputy town clerk from the Town of Shawangunk, NY. The letter informed the festival organizers that the festival address used on advertising was misleading as Wallkill, NY (Ulster County) was not the same as the Town of Wallkill (Orange county), where the festival was. She hoped that they would correct their advertising to avoid having thousands of attendees mistakenly arriving at her location and not theirs. 

Outside worries

            On that day, a Smoky Robinson and the Miracles concert in Boston resulted in scattered incidents of stone throwing and window breaking after the sound system has problems. The last thing the organizers needed was additional reasons for Wallkill to kill their event.
Legal changes
           On that date, Miles Lourie resigned as counsel for Woodstock Ventures because of the recent appointment of Peter Marshall as an additional counsel.
The Road to Bethel and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair
           All these things made July 8, 1969 a busy day on the road to Bethel and the Woodstock festival.

            Little did anyone know that this apparent mountain of a day was simply a molehill of one!

2 thoughts on “The Road to Bethel and the Woodstock Music and Art Fair”

  1. Great work, love reading these. Looking forward to getting a chance to meet you in August. Might you have a picture showing Don Ganoung?

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