Sue LeBar | Democrat
Michael Weiss and his daughter Kaitlyn, 3 1/2, enjoy a game of kickball at the picnic.
Sullivan County throws itself a party
By Susan LeBar
BETHEL It was a day like out of a Norman Rockwell painting at Bethel Woods.
On Saturday, families and old and young enjoyed a County-wide Picnic Day at Bethel Woods to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. In addition to the food, they listened to music from a variety of bands and were able to play on the big expanse of lawn.
Michael Weiss and his daughter Kaitlyn were playing kickball to jazz accompaniment on the upper lawn and were having a great time.
“We would not have missed this for anything. The weather is great, there are families just hanging out with one another and it’s a wide open space for the kids,” Michael Weiss said. “You have great music, family and friends What else could anyone ask for? The grounds are beautiful; it is just a great day,” stated Michael Weiss.
Alexa Mickelson brought her whole family to the event and created a bit of family history along the way while members enjoyed a picnic.
“Today my mother came with us and she was at the first Woodstock event and today she and her granddaughter shared a special moment,” Mickelson said. “It was the two of them creating a new memory which began with an old memory, and my mom was so proud to bring her granddaughter here… Bethel Woods is full of family history and being here at the 200th picnic is a very special family memory to us today.”
According to Executive Producer for the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Bruce Weinstein, the picnic easily came together with the help of the Sullivan County Legislature.
“Bethel Woods is very proud to take part in this event today… this is the spot that is perfect for the picnic it is full of history, and we are reliving past memories and creating many new memories as well,” stated Weinstein. “We have 13 bands on six stages and all generations of music are represented here today. We have volunteers from Delaware Valley Job Corps here to the Boys and Girls Club of Monticello.”
Weinstein went on to note, “Forty years ago, this land was about caring for one another and everyone came together on these fields as one and there was no… [strife], just peace, and look around here today. There is music, laughter, smiles, families and just people meeting with one another. It is a multi-generational crowd once again sharing an experience that won’t happen again for another long period of time.”
County Attorney Samuel Yasgur is the son of Max Yasgur, who agreed to have the Woodstock concert on his field, and history was made, putting Sullivan County on the map.
“My dad was a great person and he rented the field to help to raise money so we would have hay in the barn,” Yasgur told his listeners. “And… Woodstock was a cause for him. He was a conservative Republican and pro [Vietnam] War. He felt the principles of [our country] needed to be expressed. He felt that kids had the right to speak and be heard and… My dad would always say, ‘Listen twice as much as you talk and listen to your kids.’”
Yasgur added, “He would be so proud to see Bethel Woods standing here today and to see the families, the young, the old just everyone gathering on the lawn to have a good time. In a way this is like it was 40 years ago, but in a different time. I thank God every day for my father and he believed in kindness and he would have just been so proud of a 200th birthday being celebrated here,” stated Yasgur.
The Bicentennial Celebration included the music of The Pondering Phoxes, The Mountain Tones, Janet Burgan, The Slam Allen Band, Sauve, River’s Edge and a special performance by the West Point Jazz Knights.
Also present at the event were numerous local historical societies with exhibits showing off their own town’s local histories, as well as children’s activities and green energy demonstrations, and standing-room only lecture presentations by Sullivan County Historian John Conway, Sam Yasgur and Michael Lang, one of the the organizers of the ’69 Woodstock Festival.