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Town Troubled By Woodstock’s 20th Anniversary

August 10, 1988

BETHEL, N.Y. (AP) _ Woodstock, the rock festival that came to symbolize the 1960s for a generation of Americans, is again at the center of a controversy, this time over how big its 20th anniversary celebration should be.

On one side is the Bethel Town Board, which meets tonight to discuss whether to allow voters decide what to do about next August’s anniversary. If a referendum is agreed upon, it would be placed on November’s ballot, Town Supervisor Alan Scott said Tuesday.

On the other side are concert promoters who want to re-create the original Woodstock, which wasn’t actually held in that Ulster County town but miles away on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, Sullivan County.

Scott said his town is against any rock extravaganza on the scale of the first Woodstock, which drew nearly a half million people and endured heavy rains, lack of food and sanitation facilities, drug overdoses and massive traffic jams.

Scott said the town wants to recognize the anniversary, but in a low-key manner. The problems created during the 1969 festival are still fresh in the minds of residents, he said.

″It really raised havoc in this area,″ Scott said. ″It was a thorn in the side of many, many residents at the time.″

He said that as a result of the three-day concert held Aug. 15-17, 1969, the town passed a mass assembly law that prohibits gatherings of more than 10,000 people.

In August 1986, town officials did erect a roadside marker at the site of the concert.

Scott said at least five promoters have approached the town board this year about staging another Woodstock festival.

Some have talked about bringing back such Woodstock performers as Country Joe Fish and Richie Havens, Scott said.

Other performers, such as Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Santana, still draw large concert crowds today.

″The general feeling is that we certainly don’t want any massive gathering anywhere near the proportion of what we had,″ Scott said.

Scott said the board already has rejected a promoter’s offer of $200,000 to allow the concert to be staged.

″We recognize the importance of the event, we realize the historical significance, but we are looking for something tasteful, not more than a one- day event and not more than 10,000 people,″ he said.

In August 1984, the 15th anniversary of Woodstock was celebrated at the posh Grossinger’s Resort and Country Club in Grossinger, N.Y., about 5 miles from Yasgur’s farm.

About 700 people showed up, including Abbie Hoffman and Woodstock performers John Sebastian and David Clayton Thomas.

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