Darlene Fedun, and Wade Lawrence of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts weigh in on why Woodstock is relevant nearly fifty years later.
Patrick Oehler, Poughkeepsie Journal
On the original Woodstock site and the original Woodstock weekend, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts will mark the 50th anniversary of the famous festival with an original counterculture catalyst — live music.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts sits on the land that hosted the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969.
That gathering was held August 15-18, 1969; revolved around live music from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and dozens of other acts; and drew hundreds of thousands of people for what many consider to be the crowning achievement of the 1960s counterculture.
On Aug. 16-18, 2019, Bethel Woods will mark the milestone with the “Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival: Celebrating the golden anniversary at the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock festival.”
Information regarding musical acts, tickets and non-musical events will be released soon. Bethel Woods said for more than a year it has been planning events to mark the anniversary, including the festival.
“As the stewards of this historic site, we remain committed to preserving this rich history and spirit and to educating and inspiring new generations to contribute positively to the world through music, culture and community,” said Bethel Woods CEO Darlene Fedun.
The announcement from Bethel Woods comes as Ulster County resident Michael Lang, who with partners staged the original Woodstock festival, is gearing up to hold his own celebration. Lang has yet to release details about a date, location or performers for his event, which is not affiliated with Bethel Woods.
Bethel Woods described its festival as a “pan-generational music, culture and community event” featuring live music performances and TED-style talks “from leading futurists and retro-tech experts.”
The gathering will be presented by Bethel Woods, Live Nation and INVNT, a branding and live storytelling agency. Bethel Woods works often with Live Nation, one of the nation’s largest concert promoters, as it stages concerts at its performing arts center.
In addition to the existing venues at Bethel Woods, entertainment villages and a number of custom-built performance areas will be created for the festival.
Lang, who staged Woodstock anniversary concerts in 1994 and 1999, told the Journal that he has “definite plans” to hold a 50th anniversary concert in 2019.
The public face of the Woodstock festival for five decades, Lang told the Journal that his anniversary festival will be built around sustainability, activism and social justice, themes that “hopefully encourage people to get involved with our lives on the planet.” Lang said his goal is to harness the “history and essence of what Woodstock was.”
The events give fans two ways to remember the famous festival in its milestone year. It also may create a division among fans who wish to celebrate at the site versus celebrating with an original promoter.
Doug Sawicki of LaGrange said, “Can you have it with one and not the other? I don’t know. They kind of go hand-in-hand.”
But, Sawicki said, “There is something to be said for having the anniversary on the original site. That’s where the event took place. That’s where all the history was made.”
In addition to the anniversary weekend festival, Bethel Woods in 2019 will celebrate the Woodstock milestone with:
- “We Are Golden,” an exhibit at the Museum at Bethel Woods that will examine Woodstock and the global aspirations of youth living in 1969. “This exhibition uses the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair as a metaphor for the tumult and human response of the entire decade of the sixties in the hope that young people today may draw inspiration to articulate what it is that they want from their own world in their own time,” reads an announcement from Bethel Woods. This exhibit is scheduled to run March 30-Dec. 31, 2019.
- Conversations, workshops and round tables driven by Woodstock, music and history.
- Performances in the Event Gallery featuring veterans of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, including Ulster County resident John Sebastian on Oct. 19.
- A screening on the festival field of the director’s cut of “Woodstock,” the Academy-Award winning documentary about the concert.
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