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Andy Simek | Democrat

Dewey Bunnell, left, and Gerry Beckley, are the two original remaining members of America. They were the first of many artists to grace the Bethel Woods stage this year and played to a crowd of approximately 7,000 fans.

Triumphant Return To Bethel Woods

By Andy Simek
BETHEL – June 19, 2007 — It’s almost summertime in Sullivan County. Kids are rejoicing for the end of school; adults for their vacation time.
People all over are singing the good song, and Bethel Woods has a place for them to sing it.
Saturday marked the beginning of the 2007 season at Bethel Woods, which kicked off the summer by bringing Chicago and America right here to Sullivan County.
These two widely celebrated groups brought in an impressive 7,000-person-strong crowd despite the threatening weather.
The fan-base was as big as it was varied; people of all ages and from all places spent their evening with these classic-rock legends.
A lot of the concertgoers were local; some drove several hours to get there.
Among the home-grown fans was Andrea Grossman, of Hurleyville. Andrea works for Advanced Health and Medical and came to the show with some of her co-workers and friends.
“I came out to have some good, clean fun at a nice local venue, and we’re all having a great time,” she said.
As for the rain, which only plagued the venue for a 10-minute spurt but threatened all evening, Andrea and her friends said that concertgoers have got to come prepared for that sort of thing.
Bob O’Neil was also at the show and grew up in Sullivan County, but was just a little too young to remember the original Woodstock concert in 1969. He still recognizes the significance of the site.
He said, “This is a temple of music. I’m so glad to be here on these grounds. It’s hallowed.”
Bob graduated from Eldred in the 70s and now lives part time in Yulan. When he’s not in Sullivan County he spends his time in Greenwich Village and Waikiki Beach.
He always finds himself back in Bethel Woods, however, because of the “good karma.”
Lenny Schultz is another person who finds himself returning to Sullivan County, and especially to Bethel Woods.
Lenny is a comedian who spent his heyday on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, opening up for Frank Zappa and protecting his title as the world’s premiere chicken impersonator; he now spends his time in Kiamesha Lake and whenever there’s a concert on, you can find him in Bethel.
“I don’t really care what’s playing,” Lenny said, “I just like to come out to the venue.”
Apart from bringing a whole lot of Sullivan County residents together, Bethel Woods is drawing in crowds from all over the surrounding region.
Sam and Zach Slinsky drove an hour-and-a-half from Cold Spring, in Putnam County to be at the show.
Zach, who is Sam’s 17-year-old son, grew up listening to America.
“My dad has been playing this stuff for me since I was 5- or 6-years-old,” Zach explained.
Sam said they had never been to Bethel Woods before but that they would definitely be coming back for future shows.
Both Pat Kind, of Montgomery, New York and Dan Heffernan, of New Haven, Connecticut, shared these sentiments.
“This is our first time here,” Pat said, “and we can’t get over how beautiful it is.”
Having listened to Chicago and America while growing up and during their college years, Pat and Dan were excited to be able to see them live at the original Woodstock site and were hoping to come back to future shows.
Seeing the faces and hearing the stories of the people at the show has brought one thing to light: if there is one thing that Bethel Woods is good at, it’s keeping people coming back for more.
They certainly can deliver, too. This season, Bethel Woods has slated nearly double the number of shows from last season and, if this concert was any hint of what’s to come, Sullivan County is in for a great summer.

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