12 Facts About Woodstock For Its 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago, an estimated 400,000 spectators attended Woodstock, a music event held in Bethel, New York, from August 15-18. Mental Floss is commemorating the historic music festival by compiling this list of 12 wild facts about the event:

  1. Woodstock was banned from its original site because of toilets.The original site of the festival was intended to be at Howard Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill, near Middletown, New York. But by insisting the concert's portable toilets weren't up to code and refusing to grant a permit, the city of Wallkill effectively banned Woodstock from taking place.
  2. Woodstock was saved by a farmer.When Wallkill fell through, promoters turned to Bethel, New York, a small town with just 2366 residents where a farmer named Max Yasgur owned a 600-acre dairy farm.
  3. Woodstock wasn’t meant to be a free concert.With no practical way of turning away crowds, the partners decided to make it a free event for people who had not purchased one of the 100,000 tickets that had been pre-sold. Of the 400,000 who ultimately attended, 300,000 were never charged an admission fee.
  4. Many cows were in attendance.Yasgur's farm was a functioning site of business, which meant that the incoming crowds were going to be displacing the cattle usually present on site.
  5. Jimi Hendrix was paid $18,000 to perform.Creedence Clearwater Revival, the first act booked, received $10,000. The Who received $6,250 and Joe Cocker made a relatively paltry $1,375. Sha Na Na got $750, while Quill was the most economic booking at $375.
  6. Woodstock’s musical acts had to be helicoptered in.The traffic leading into the event was so awful that Sweetwater, which was due to open the festival, didn't make their scheduled start. The band was airlifted to the grounds by helicopter so they could go on second. A number of other performers also traveled by air to circumvent the traffic issues.
  7. Woodstock’s crowd was actually very well-behaved.Virtually no reports of violence ever came out of the festival.
  8. Even the ice had acid in it.In 2009, the Who's John Entwistle toldBillboardthat he decided to drink a bourbon and Coke and realized that someone had spiked the ice with acid. 
  9. The Who’s set was crashed by Abbie Hoffman.British rock band The Who experienced an interruption when political activist Abbie Hoffman rushed on stage to protest the imprisonment of White Panther Party leader John Sinclair. 
  10. There were public service announcements between each act.A member of the production staff named Edward "Chip" Monck took to the microphone to deliver announcements, alerting the crowd to unattended children or to notify people where to find help.
  11. The original Woodstock site is now on the national register of historic places.The concert area, now known as the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
  12. Even the garbage had a message.Surveying the concert site in a helicopter after Hendrix’s set, co-promoter Michael Lang noticed that workers had started to shovel the trash in formation: a peace symbol appeared. 

Jason Hurst

Jason Hurst

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