Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell
EMMA HARTUNG, 8, of New York City was one of an unusually small amount of people who visited the Woodstock festival site at the corner of Hurd and West Shore roads during its 33rd anniversary.
By Ted Waddell
BETHEL August 20, 2002 On Saturday, August 17, the date that traditionally marks the close of the Woodstock anniversary weekend, the site of the original 1969 concert on Hurd Road was deathly quiet except for the raucous sounds of four-wheelers driven around the area by several young people.
Across the road a ways, a group of environmenally conscious musicians and songwriters staged a free concert on a one-acre plot of land within sight and earshot of the famous site that witnessed history in the making when 500,000 people descended on Bethel during August 15-17, 69.
In 1989, Clint Partridge played at the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, back in the days when the site was open to the public, even though in those years roads were blocked with town-owned trucks and some local folks were paid to dump chicken manure on the site.
During the 25th anniversary in 1994 an event big on plans but short on cash he helped coordinate the staging and services for what proved to be the last free gathering of those in search of that elusive Woodstock spirit.
In 1997, Partridge moved to his home overlooking the original site. When not writing songs, he works with hard-calloused hands creating stone walls and pathways fashioned with the eye of an artist using natural materials borrowed from the earth.
Partridge and fellow songwriter Chuck Smith of Providence, RI recently teamed up to found Spirit of Bethel Records as a vehicle to spread the message that We Are One. Joining them at the center of the enterprise is singer/songwriter E.C. Lorick of neighboring Orange County.
On Friday, August 16, Spirit of Bethel performed at Hectors Inn in Bethel. The following day, they held a free concert at Partridges home.
Sid Bernstein, who gained international fame as a promoter of the Beatles and was a player during the 25th anniversary of Woodstock, visited the concert.
Our music has a very powerful message, said Partridge. It talks about people working together to solve problems and the fact that all problems are solvable.
Looking across the narrow valley at the all-but-deserted site of the original concert, Partridge said, There is a sadness in my heart that there is no music on the field over the anniversary dates and that people arent allowed to gather there.
Its a gem of Sullivan County, the most famous stage site in the history of the world, and people come here and have to keep their legs crossed, he added. There are no toilets or drinking fountains. It needs to welcome people.
According to Smith, the Spirit of Bethel free concert was an awareness gig. About 50-70 people attended the concert during the afternoon and early evening Saturday.
Smith is a singer/songwriter well known for his work with social issues and support of the Artists Hunger Network.
We sing out for the worth of the individual and that the voices of children should be heard, he said.
For more information about Spirit of Bethel Records, visit their website at www.spiritofbethelrecords.com.
Site Is Fairly Empty
By Ted Waddell
BETHEL It was all quiet on the Woodstock front.
What a lot of local folks call the the best-kept secret of Sullivan County was, for all intents and purposes, still a secret.
For visitors without a clue, the only signs along Route 17B signaling the location of the famous 1969 concert are an advertisement for the Woodstock Emporium down the road and a nearby campsite.
Over the Woodstock weekend, a few people managed to find their way to the fenced-in site of the original Aquarian Exposition of August 15-17, 1969.
Some wondered if all the huge white plastic tents on the hillside set up in preparation for the upcoming annual harvest market were left over from 33 years ago, while others stood by the stark monument to reflect on what happened so long ago Woodstock, the civil rights movement and the Vietnan War or what might have been.
Eight-year-old Emma Hartung was on vacation and visited the site with her parents, Bill Hartung and Audrey Waysee of NYC. This was their first sight of the site.
She posed for a few pictures but didnt seem impressed with it all.
I dont really know all that much about it, she said.
Was she going to ask her folks about Woodstock?
Maybe, she replied shyly.
Its a piece of history, said Waysee. Its a beautiful site, and were trying to imagine what it was like back then . . . where the mud was and all the people were sitting.
Coming in Fridays edition of the Sullivan County Democrat, a look at the Woodstock reunion at Max Yasgurs old farm.