Woodstock Lives On for Some, Others Just Came to Party
Aug. 21, 1989
BETHEL, N.Y. (AP) _ Woodstock anniversary celebrants packed up and left a muddy field here, a final reminder of the rock 'n' roll festival 20 years ago that for many defined a generation.
By Sunday, only about 3,500 people remained of the more than 20,000 that showed up over the last three days. The sloping alfalfa field 110 miles northwest of New York City was soaked by rain, much as it was in August 1969 when 400,000 attended the Woodstock Music and Art Festival.
Police expect most of the revelers to be gone by today.
''This is it,'' said Sullivan County Sheriff Joseph Wasser, pronouncing an end to a celebration that had no official backing from county or town authorities. Once people began arriving in large numbers, however, the town of Bethel supplied portable toilets and water.
The gathering was marred when a man was stabbed in the abdomen during a fight Saturday night.
Joseph Basto, 39, of Newburgh, remained in critical condition today at Harris Community General Hospital, officials said. Sullivan County Sheriff Joseph Wasser said no arrest was made and police were interviewing witnesses on Sunday.
Despite that incident and a few drug-related arrests, the anniversary like its predecessor was mostly peaceful. The first people arrived weeks ago at the site 110 miles northwest of New York City, which some consider hallowed ground.
''This isn't being cosmic or crazy, but whenever you walk on this land when there's no people here you can feel it,'' said Will Hoppey, one of the coordinators of the weekend's entertainment.
''When the wind is right and the grass is high, you can kind of hear some of the old stuff, the groups. It's always been special,'' said Steve Bergkamp.
Most said they were drawn by memories and the hope that some of the original concert's performers would return. Only one did - Melanie. She sang two songs on a makeshift stage, complementing the entertainment provided mostly by local musicians.
Others made it a weekend camping trip and two-day beer party.
''We had nothing to do for the weekend,'' said 21-year-old Evan Lubell. ''We thought we'd get a blanket and drink some beer.''
Cars, buses, tents, tarps and campfires dotted the hillside that once held a mass of humanity. Medical personnel were swamped with drug-related cases 20 years ago, but over the weekend most people brought to a first-aid station were treated for cut feet and stubbed toes.
Some just had too much to drink. One man passed out face-down on the sloping field. Someone was thoughtful enough to place a fluorescent traffic cone next to his head.
Some people looked as if they never left the '60s. Long hair and beards were in the majority, and tie-dyed clothing was the uniform of the day.
Bergkamp, who was here in '69 and wears his silver hair to his shoulders, tried to convince his 15-year-old son to come along.
''He told me, 'That's corny stuff, that's old hippie stuff,''' Bergkamp said.
''I said to him, 'And you call me a drag 3/8'''