A touchstone of the counterculture generation, Woodstock is an instantly recognizable name. Fans, however, will know that the event didn’t take place in the town of Woodstock but on a dairy farm located in Bethal, New York.
The onsite museum offers a movie viewing and audio guides, but I visited with my father who had hitchhiked and walked his way across the state to attend the event nearly fifty years prior. We walked the grassy valley together as we tried to figure out where he had watched the concert. The still-visible base of the stage was a helpful orientation point to reference, so we did find what was more or less his spot, halfway up a hill. The field is large but not excessively so; its hard to imagine that half a million people squeezed their way around this one location.
He told me stories about sleeping directly on the muddy ground and relying on the kindness of strangers for food- which would often be salted water shared amongst a group of people, or a spoonful of peanut butter for the day. At least they were listening to good music.
Across from the field was a copse of trees that made up the Bindi Bazaar. Originally filled with vendors, its now a sweet little walk through the trees with colorful crochet patterns wrapped around the trees that emphasized the beautiful fall foliage when we visited in October.
While there were some plaques and pieces of artwork that made the trip enjoyable, unless there’s an event I’d expect a visit to Bethel taking no more than a few hours. The town of Woodstock itself has a bunch of cute little shops to browse through, so it might be worth it to do both towns in one trip- and its a beautiful ride between the two!
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