Dan Hust | Democrat
Campers flock to the Abramson-Howard property on Memorial Day weekend in 2011. The former Max Yasgur homestead has played host to many impromptu reunions, leading to conflict between the owners and the Town of Bethel.
Bethel approves campground plan
By Dan Hust
BETHEL April 12, 2013 Thousands are expected to be welcomed to Max Yasgur’s former homestead during Woodstock’s 44th anniversary this August.
On Tuesday, the Bethel Planning Board unanimously approved Jeryl Abramson’s request for a special use permit to create a temporary campground on her property along Route 17B in Bethel.
Once the home of the most famous local to grace the 1969 Woodstock Festival, the land more recently became famous for the Woodstock-themed reunions hosted by Abramson and her husband, Roy Howard.
Though having bitterly fought with the town over past gatherings, the couple decided to try again. Howard, however, passed away earlier this year from cancer.
So Abramson has rebranded it as the First Annual Roy Howard Memorial Reunion at Yasgur’s Farm.
“I’m heartbroken and numb,” she affirmed this week of the trying situation. “But we’re just going to move forward.”
With space for more than 900 cars, the temporary campground will host up to 3,000 admission-paying visitors from August 16-18. Abramson is preparing to book performers, as well, though there will be no paid entertainment.
She’s unofficially dubbed it the “Yo-Yo Ma After-Party,” alluding to an August 16 concert featuring the famed cellist at the nearby Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
She’s also considering a permanent set of campsites on the premises.
“I am in preliminary discussions with my engineers for moving forward with a seasonal campground,” she affirmed. “Until I have plans for a permanent facility ready, my intent is to continue hosting the annual reunions.”
That means, one way or another, she is returning to the Town of Bethel for more permits sometime after August.
“Without the town’s cooperation, there’s no way it’s going to work,” she noted.
Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm indicated the town will work with, not against, Abramson.
“My position has been that as long as any property owner fulfills the requirements of Bethel’s code,” he explained, “they should be able to do what they want with their property.”
Besides, he added, “we’re looking for some economy.”
He commended the planning board for its approach to this process and thinks residents will be pleased with the result.
“The proof will be once they have a successful event, which I anticipate will happen,” Sturm remarked.
“... And if it means we’re putting events of the past behind us, that’s OK with me, as well.”