14 People Who Actually Went To Woodstock In '69 Share What It Was Like To Be There

List Rules
Vote up the posts that best describe what it was like to attend Woodstock in 1969.

If you had the power to go back in time to attend any music festival in history, which one would it be and why?  People on Reddit have been posting about what it was really like to make their way to the Woodstock festival grounds.  We have collected the most genuine descriptions and experiences people shared about the time they went to Woodstock in 1969. Don't forget to vote up your favorite stories.


  • 1. Woodstockwilly69

    Woodstockwilly69:

    Woodstock was an accident for me, one of those great accidents that happen once in a lifetime and you never forget. Until Friday evening August 15th, 1969 I had never heard of Woodstock and I don’t think most of the other guys I hung out with in the Bunker Hill section of Waterbury CT had either. One of them came up to the local park where we usually met up on Friday nights and said “Who wants to go to Woodstock?” It was about 5pm. I think he had found out about it from some friends at The Taft School where he attended and once he told us what it was about five of us said we wanted to go. We all piled into his old Ford Galaxy 500, one of those big old cars that fit six pretty comfortably and after making some runs home to get for some extra cash and jackets we took off. It was Dave driving, Paul and Hank in the front seat, and Mike, Danny, and I in the back. I think we all thought it would be one of those deals where we would drive over to New York state, spend three or four hours listening to the bands and drive the 2 ½ hours back home in the early hours of Saturday. That’s what I thought. Well, we managed to get there with about a gazillion other people and there was no getting out. We got close enough to the site that we could walk to it from where the car was and spent the next three days experiencing the greatest music event of all time. Wow! We took turns going back to the car to get some sleep throughout the weekend. The Galaxy had bench seats so with one in front and one in back two could get some sleep at the same time. I know we were probably hungry, tired, and wet just like everybody else there but all I remember is the great music, the thousands and thousands of kids who were all cool and got along, and how wonderful it was to be a twenty-year-old guy having the time of my life. As we were leaving I grabbed a muddy old wool army blanket out of the mud. Time passed, I got married and started a family and lost touch with all those guys I went to Woodstock with. I haven’t forgotten them or the great time we had at Woodstock though. I think of that experience often and fondly. I had always been nostalgic about that time and finally on August 15th, 2003 I took a ride back there. Ran into Duke Devlin near the Woodstock Monument and had him snap a picture of me. I STILL HAVE THAT BLANKET. It’s my one physical connection with that time and that place!

    37 votes
  • 2. Frank A

    Frank A:

     

    "I was a teenager in a town 50 miles or so from the Woodstock music festival. We were not really hippies, although we weren’t young republicans by any stretch, just normal teens in the sixties. I had a summer job and had to work while a group of friends went. That night I was in a local bar when a girl we knew entered and said she was driving over to Woodstock to find our friends, “did I want to come?”. I immediately agreed and we hopped in her car around 9 at night. We were locals and she knew the back roads to the concert but eventually, we were stopped by congestion and we left the car, probably 3 or 4 miles from the venue. We started to walk and as we got closer more and more young people joined the trek. You could not get lost, just follow the crowd.

    It was probably around midnight when the sound of rock music drifted over the road, the music was from quite a distance and echoed off the hills. softly at first and then louder and louder. As we got closer there were people openly selling drugs, mescaline, and LSD, but no marijuana was being sold, pot was for sharing I guess.

    Eventually, we found the top of the amphitheater, sitting below us were probably 400,000+ people listening to music, and at the bottom of the hill was the stage with the musicians. The distance was such that you could see the drummer strike a drum and the sound would reach you a second or so later. It was that far and every inch was covered with people. No one had ever seen anything like it.

    I am not sure how it happened but we were only there a short time when we found our friends. We walked into a crowd of 400,000 people, outdoors in the dark, and walked right up to our friends; cosmic!

    We settled in with the group, had a little of my friend Eddie Stew’s famous homegrown pot, and enjoyed the music. Around dawn, we left to hike to our friend's campsite. Like New York, it was a city that did not sleep and there were many sights along the way. One of my friends pointed to a combination haybale/tent hut and said reverently ”that’s the Pranksters” and nearby was the campsite and free kitchen of the Hog Farm. There were buses, mysterious campsites with roaring parties going on, hippies of all shapes and sizes including naked hippies, bikers, many Viet Nam Vets, Christmas lights strung in the trees, and road signs with corny names like “Hippie Way”. We arrived at our friend's tents and cars and somehow I slept without blankets or any gear. August nights in upstate New York are warm.

    The next morning we returned to our spot overlooking the stage and listened to more music. Then the rains came. Bone-soaking thundershowers. Interestingly I don’t have any recollection of discomfort, not cold, not wet. Just an intense interest in all that was going on around me. It was a people-watching paradise. Nor do I recall eating anything, there was no food, but I don’t remember being hungry.

    At some point on a very muddy Sunday afternoon, we slipped away to head home, how the girl found her car we left earlier I have no idea. When I got home I remember that my parents did not mention anything about their 16-year-old son disappearing for a few days. I just walked in and went to bed.

    Favorite band? Sly and the Family Stone. They went on stage really late, like 3:30 AM, and just rocked that place.

    Like everyone who was there, I was a subtly changed person."

    29 votes
  • 3. u/Fluor_guy

    u/Fluor_guy:

     

    I was there. Drove up with a few friends from the NYC area. I had purchased the tickets for our group and one person bailed, so while parked in the traffic jam I walked up and down the cars until I found someone who needed a ticket and was able to unload the extra :) I still have mine.

    The plan was to set up entrance gates to feed the crowd in but that hadn't been completed so we all just wandered into the field in front of the concert stage and other areas. Before things started the organizers were broadcasting over the loudspeakers for everyone to go back out to the entrance so they could collect tickets but everyone just ignored that and eventually they just gave up.

    I spent most of the concert in the open (muddy) field area in front of the stage, with forays to the port-a-potties and to wander around the tent areas where there were people selling all kinds of crafts, serving out communal food, treating bad trips, etc.

    Drugs? Not so much for me personally. I would smoke the occasional joint but have never even tried anything else, Woodstock or anywhere else. Sure there were plenty of people tripping out but the idea that everyone who was there was a stone druggie is a stereotype and false. There were plenty of others like me who were drawn by the times and the music. What an event - Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Country Joe, and the Fish, the Dead, Creedence, Janis, Sly, the Who, etc, etc. It was indeed memorable.

    23 votes
  • 4. u/Hedronist

    u/Hedronist

     

    Jesus Christ! I was feeling a little bit old this morning (our 2 grandkids are visiting), but then I see all of these people talking about 'this old guy I knew', or 'my uncle's old friend, or almost anything that has the word 'old' in it.

    Yes, I was there personally along with my friend Mike. It was shortly after my 20th birthday. We saw the small ad in the Chicago Seed, the local "underground" newspaper. We had tickets, but I have no idea where they went (I know, Epic Fail). Actually, "no idea" sums up a lot of my experiences there because we were doing drugs at a Thompsonian level (although this was a few years before Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Fortunately, we didn't get any of the "bad brown acid" because we showed up with our own 80 tabs of Orange Sunshine (ah, now that was great acid!)

    I remember a little bit of Cocker, and I definitely remember Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner. I remember the traffic in, and the traffic out (while trying to keep my Volvo's engine from melting because of a massive oil leak). I remember the mud and some of the personal interactions (mostly good).

    Unfortunately, most of what I "know" is from watching the movie because ... drugs. Sigh.

    20 votes
  • 5. Ajax

    Ajax:

    I went to Woodstock with my friends, Dave Semjchuk, John O’Hara, John Bragg, and his little brother Gregory and a couple of girls who were friends of John B’s. I think a couple of guys from New York were there too, friends of J.B’s but I’m no longer sure. If they were then their names were Marty and Wolfgang. There were other people we knew as well like Jack McDermott and also Ed Roman the guitar guy who passed away last year. We drove a Beige ’69 Toyota Corolla with a black trunk lid(mine), a new white Ford van(from Bragg motors), and O’hara’s Chevy sedan. You can see all three vehicles lined up alongside each other all by themselves in the Time-Life Woodstock edition photo of the “Press” parking lot. There was no one else parked there! John B gave a “security” guy something to let us park there. The purpose of the photo, I suppose, was to show the lack of interest by the mainstream press of the day about the event. Too bad for them, lucky for Scorcese. We met all sorts of cool people who were way out of our league in coolness. Another friend named John Arrigone (I hope I spelled it correctly John) was there as well although we did not go together. He is actually in the film on the telephone waiting to call his Ma. We were incredibly lucky that we had vehicles to sleep in when it rained. They were between the cornfield where the kid got run over by a tractor and the porto-sans so they were just a short walk from everything…..the hill, the stage access road, the Hell’s Angels beer can mountain…….it was just great. I remember getting a strong buzz just from breathing the air and before we got there we thought we were wild! We never saw so many people in one place for the same purpose and never did again. We were lucky we got there early and just stumbled into the right spot. We never had to show our tickets to anyone and I still have them.

    20 votes
  • 6. Arthur F

    Arthur F
    Photo: Arthur F / Quora
    17 votes