Andy Simek | Democrat
JOANN AND RICHARD Conroy, of Smallwood, revel in the multi-media experience of the exhibit that incorporates painting, music and video to really put you back into the summer of ‘69 at the Woodstock exhibit at the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville on Saturday
Feel the 'Vibe' at New Woodstock Exhibit
By Andy Simek
HURLEYVILLE August 24, 2007 “For 38 years, people in Sullivan County have been denying it ever happened,” said George Ardito, President of the Sullivan County Historical Society (SCHS).
Leni Binder, the district seven legislator, who is also a member of the SCHS, was doing research into the matter as well and one resident told her, “We don’t talk about that.”
Surprisingly enough, this dark secret, that many are trying to forget, made world news in the summer of 1969.
Yes, this “secret” is the famous Woodstock Music Festival, the three days of peace, love and music that defined a generation and which still inspires people today.
Last Saturday, on the 38-year anniversary of the concert, the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville unveiled their latest edition, a multi-media, walk-in exhibit dedicated to the event that put this county on the map.
Nearly 40 years in the making, the exhibit is a truly unique re-creation, a re-presentation, of those three days in August.
Imagine strolling through the museum and then finding yourself in a field; the lights dim, music starts playing and a montage of moving and still images from the past start playing on the walls.
This is not a dream, nor is it an acid flashback.
This is the experience that the museum has created to remind us of our history a history that proves that we can be peaceful and happy and, most importantly, that we can look to ourselves as a source of hope and change.
“Three years ago,” Ardito explained, “we put in the timeline room here [at the museum], but we didn’t have enough money to complete the Woodstock portion of the exhibit.”
Senator John Bonacic helped to obtain the grant that would ultimately be used to finish the project.
The opening attracted quite the crowd for the small room.
Many of the visitors were veterans of the ’60s and had attended the concert.
The scene, appropriately enough, was very close-knit, despite many of the visitors being complete strangers, using the 38-year-old glue of memories to bind them together.
One patron noted, after seeing an overhead shot of the crowd, “All those people are me. We were all one, then.”
A couple visiting the museum described the exhibit as being a little surreal.
Joann Conroy was one of the half million visitors to Yasgur’s farm in the August of ’69; her husband, Richard, was in the Army at the time, stationed in Georgia, and only experienced the concert second-hand.
“I’ve never seen the Woodstock movie,” Joann said, “so it’s a strange experience to see all this.”
Joann lives in Smallwood and was living there at the time. She said the traffic stopped her from going to work, so she called her friends up and said, “Something big is going on down the road.”
She then walked from her house to the concert.
Joann now works at Bethel Woods, the most direct connection many residents have to Woodstock, but she says it’s not quite the same.
“The ’60s was like one big party,” she said.
“We really didn’t think we were making history. We were just having fun!”
The exhibit is now a permanent feature to the Sullivan County Museum and can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 1-4:30 p.m. on Sundays in the Sullivan County Timeline room. The museum is located on Main Street in Hurleyville.