Most 50-year-old stories tend to be viewed through rose-colored glasses.
In Woodstock’s case the glasses are tiny and John Lennon-round, or over-sized tortoiseshell. They are groovy, man.
Baby boomers — attendees and non-attendees alike — speak of the festival in mythic terms, a miracle of 400,000 people crammed together in discomfort, partying for three days of peace and harmony.
Their children grew up steeped like bags of green tea in Woodstock legend; the photos and music sank deep into our collective, multi-generational psyche.
Moths have chewed holes in the legend over the years, and plenty of Woodstock’s 50-year anniversary articles showcase this.
There is also bemoaning about how Woodstock has never been replicated and the easy target failures of the attempts to try.
We disagree. We think — especially in our region where festivals of all sorts abound — that threads of Woodstock persist, changed, as they should.
Folk music and peaceful protests are woven into our local culture — original, local music streams from our restaurants downtown, our folk festivals, the lawns of our elder care facilities. Protesters carry signs in the Open Space and downtown every weekend. Blissfest, Wheatland, Spirit of the Woods Music Festival this weekend’s Hoxeyville, are seas of modern day tie-dye and many of them are even family-friendly and have running water.
No, it’s not an exact Woodstock replica, but that’s a good thing. Evolution has given us Burning Man, Movement electronic music festival and much more that we’re not hip enough to know about.
That Woodstock — the brand — has never been cloned isn’t sad. Woodstock spontaneously happened — it wasn’t cultivated or marketed or influenced. The organizers didn’t create a miracle with bad planning. The attendees weren’t paragons of virtue, peace and tolerance.
Half a million people jammed together on a dairy farm to hear musicians jam onstage.
They got together and put their togetherness ahead of their individual needs.
That’s a little miracle we can practice every day.
Happy birthday, Woodstock.