Tour operator plans major Woodstock 50th anniversary event – in Cleveland

February 27, 2018 GMT

Tour operator plans major Woodstock 50th anniversary event – in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Bob Cline, president of U.S. Tours, was 14 in 1969 when the Woodstock music festival rocked the world.

“My mom wouldn’t let me go,” said Cline, who lived outside Parkersburg, West Virginia, at the time (and still does). “There were a lot of people who wanted to go and couldn’t.”

Fifty years later, Cline is throwing a massive party for those who didn’t or couldn’t make it to the original. His venue for the celebration: not the tiny town in upstate New York that hosted the original event, but Cleveland.

The event is being pitched to tour operators around the country, who are expected to bring more than 1,000 former hippies to Cleveland in August 2019 for a three-day festival featuring 1960s-era music, bell bottoms and star gazing.

“I’ve been thinking about the 50th anniversary of Woodstock for a while,” said Cline, a 40-year veteran in the tour and travel field. “It was just a question of when and where.”

Cline said Bethel, New York, home of Max Yasgur’s dairy farm that hosted 400,000 people over three days in August 1969, doesn’t have the infrastructure, including hotels and restaurants, to support his idea. The New York site, now home to a small museum and outdoor music venue, is planning a 50th anniversary event of its own, but details are slim: facebook.com/woodstock50thanniversary.

“I needed a different place,” said Cline. “I thought the Rock Hall would work.”

On the itinerary: a private evening event at the Rock Hall, a Woodstock tribute band performing at Public Auditorium, and a bell-bottom shopping spree on Lorain Avenue.

Cline said he can accommodate as many as 50 buses and 1,400 people for the event, which runs Aug. 16 to 18. He already has interest for about half that. The event went on sale to tour operators early this year.

“It’s off to a great start,” said Cline, who worked with Destination Cleveland to develop the itinerary. Buses are signed up to come from as far away as Nebraska, Florida and New Jersey; and a group is flying in from California. Cline has rooms blocked at three downtown-area hotels and may need to add more.

In addition to the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the event will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, on July 20, 1969, and the 50th anniversary of the release of “The Age of Aquarius” by the 5th Dimension.

A full moon will rise over Cleveland on Aug. 16, the night of the Rock Hall party. Cline said the event will extend outside, to the Rock Hall plaza, and include a band playing moon-related songs.

An optional trip is planned to the Observatory Park Planetarium in Geauga County, where visitors can see the sky as it appeared on the day Armstrong took those famous steps.

Cline said most of the events will not be open to the public, with the exception of the Aug. 17 concert at Public Auditorium, featuring tribute band Back to the Garden. Tickets will go on sale sometime next year. Audience members will be encouraged to wear tie-dye and bell bottoms.

“Once you cross the doorway it is again the year 1969,” promises the U.S. Tours website. “Cast away those conservative clothes and thoughts that came with maturity and enjoy the memories of your youth.”

Cline, a wholesaler who plans and sells group tours and events to tour operators, predicts the Cleveland Woodstock anniversary will be the largest group tour event in the United States in 2019.

Most of the tour-goers will be baby boomers, who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.

His website pitches the tour this way: “This is for all of your customers who were teenagers in 1969. But especially for those who were either too young, or not allowed to go. It’s time they finally ‘got to Woodstock.’ ”

Said Cline: “This time I can say, ‘Mom, I’m going.’ ”

U.S. Tours lists the following artists who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and who also performed at Woodstock:

Joan Baez

The Band


Grateful Dead

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Janis Joplin

Sly & the Family Stone

The Who

Jefferson Airplane

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Jimi Hendrix