Woodstock returns via Watkins Glen International

The Woodstock 50 will be hosted on the grounds of the former F1 track and current NASCAR track

50 years ago, a giant hippie festival was born. Some 400,000 visitors attended Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm. To date, it’s one of the largest Rock n Roll concerts to date.

It rained and caused muddy hell for the local farmers. Despite headlines of mass chaos, the festival is still talked about to this day.

August 15–18, 1969 was a freedom gathering of young people. It was billed as an “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”. 32 acts performed and a makeshift stage under half the lighting that was originally planned to be installed.

The event was suppose to take place at Wallkill, New York. Three days before the festival, the promoters were forced to change the site at last minutes notice due stop work orders from local officials.

They moved the site to the dairy farm. Due to the late change in the venue, the promoters were in debt. They had an option to build a stage or a ticket gate. They built the stage and made the event free of charge.

Promoters expected 50,000 people for the weekend. Woodstock was far from staffed for 400,000 people that appeared in the middle of New York State.

The stage lighting could only be half installed. The 16 loudspeaker sound system was equipped for a crowd of only 150,000.

Security was all but absent. Amenities were also absent. It was mass camping without a list of emergency services. Yet, despite all that, nearly half a million people were able to co-exist and help each other without a long list of major incidents.

Woodstock Kids
Woodstock Kids (Photo: Ric Manning)

Following the festival

Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts were the men behind the Woodstock festival. Some 80 lawsuits were brought against the promoters, mostly by the local farmers.

A film was made about the festival. Funds from that film went to legal fees of the various lawsuits and the debts collected from the lack of a ticket window.

In 1970, Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a return of the festival. The local residents also tossed the supervisor that allowed the festival to be hosted in their town. New York State in addition to the town of Bethel passed mass gathering laws to prevent festivals of this type in the future.

In 1989, twenty years after the festival, a crowd of an estimated 20,000 people returned to the site. They surrounded a monument to celebrate an unofficial reunion of sorts.

1969 Woodstock Festival - Crowd
1969 Woodstock Festival – Crowd

Woodstock returns

Woodstock 50 Date: August 16-18, 2019

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock . And it’s returning New York State. Specifically, it will be hosted at Watkins Glen International.

Typically, Watkins Glen, NY is the grounds for a race track. A 3.4 mile road course with the boot included has an opportunity for 38,900 spectators. However, the various sized, multi-configuration race track sit on endless acres.

In 1973, the same complex hosted the Summer Jam music festival. 600,000 people attended that event.

The official Woodstock event in Watkins Glen will be put on by the same promoters as the original. Michael Lang told the Rolling Stone that over 40 acts have already been signed to perform at the event.

The festival at Watkins Glen will take place at the same time as another. In the same state, a separate 50th anniversary celebration will take place on the site of the original festival. That one will be hosted at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Tickets for the event at Watkins Glen will go on sale in February.


Watkins Glen International