The site of the original Woodstock festival, which is now Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, was deemed too small for the ill-fated 50th anniversary festival, which went down in flames last month after many weeks of confusion and many millions of dollars spent.
But now, with original Woodstock veterans Santana and John Fogerty as well as Ringo Starr scheduled to perform at the venue this on this coming weekend — Aug. 16-19, the exact dates of the 1969 festival — it’s the closest one can realistically get to an anniversary. Yet the local authorities, still mindful of the epic traffic jams that surrounded the original event, are hoping people will get the vibes some other weekend.
Only ticketholders will be allowed onto the Bethel Woods grounds Thursday through Sunday, and they must present a travel pass that was issued with the tickets — and there will be a very un-Woodstock-like element: checkpoints.
State troopers will be posted on the roads leading to the venue, and the town is prohibiting vehicles on or near the venue from parking on roadways or shoulders, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. Cars found parking will be towed.
“We’re trying to encourage people that are not interested in the concert-side of things, and just want to come and sort of breathe the air and feel the vibes … to come on other weekends,” Bethel Woods CEO Darlene Fedun told the Associated Press.
Regardless, local officials expect up to 100,000 visitors from Thursday through Sunday.
The site, which is still surrounded by rolling countryside and farmland — although a road on it has been renamed“Yasgur Road, after Max Yasgur, the owner of the original grounds, has been a tourist attraction for many years: Stores and open-air markets along Route 17B are filled with tie-dyed and psychedelic items, although the Bethel Woods venue and nearby museum and surrounding monuments are as clean as most historic areas.
“When they first built it, I had mixed feelings about it,” Bill Bokesz, 66, a regular visitor, told the AP last week. “But there’s not condos here. It’s still here. They preserved the field — they did a really good job.”
The weekend’s festivities will kick off on Thursday, when original Woodstock performer Arlo Guthrie (of “Alice’s Restaurant” fame) will perform before an outdoor screening of the legendary 1970 Woodstock documentary on the festival field.
However, access will be tightly limited: There will be a free shuttle bus for those not allowed to bring cars to the monument, but visits will be limited to 30 minutes, “In order to give everyone a chance to make this pilgrimage,” an informational flyer reads.
“This time,” Town of Bethel supervisor Dan Sturm told reporters this week, “we’re going to get it right.”