Hippies young and old keep ‘real Woodstock’ flame alive

August 19, 2019

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Bethel (New York, US): The Doobie Brothers perform on Saturday at the Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts, at the original site of the Woodstock Festival held 50 years ago.—Reuters
Bethel (New York, US): The Doobie Brothers perform on Saturday at the Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts, at the original site of the Woodstock Festival held 50 years ago.—Reuters

BETHEL; The Woodstock name has become more brand than spirit for many hippies, but people spanning the generations continue to seek its aura, looking for more “authentic” ways to pay homage to the spot where it all began.

People like visual artist and activist Christopher Peter Vanderessen shun “commercial” events like those held at Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts, where the grounds that hosted the 1969 Woodstock stage are located and a handful of veteran acts like Santana are playing for the 50th anniversary weekend.

The 45-year-old is among those in a generation too young to reminisce about that 1969’s weekend of peace, love and music, but who value the ideals that Woodstock came to symbolise enough to carry them on.

Wielding a walking staff etched with beaver teeth marks and wearing a long black cloak emblazoned with neon paint, he journeys each year to the forest behind the old Yasgur farmstead — also part of the sprawling original grounds that were lent to Woodstock organizers by a benevolent farmer in 1969.

Scores of people camp out annually there to honour what they consider to be the original festival’s spirit.

Children run wild as people of all ages dance, paint and relax in hammocks among the tall pine trees, and a number of local bands play for the crowd.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2019