The 1969 Woodstock Festival has gone on to become a mythological event for future generations. Many have tried to recreate the success of the seminal concert festival, which immortalized on film in the 1970 documentary Woodstock. In more recent years, many have argued that the idyllic image of the 1969 Woodstock Festival that perpetuated by the subsequent documentary is false. According to them, the festival was actually a pretty miserable event for the people that were there. And for a variety of reasons! Join Facts Verse as we take a look at everything wrong with the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
The 1969 Woodstock Festival has gone down in history for a variety of reason. Though those that were there have since claimed that the festival might not have been all that it chalked up to be. While the festival is often thought of as having been an idyllic free love experience for attendees. And many who were there actually claim that attending the festival was like being inside of a nightmare!
There were numerous things wrong with the 1969 Woodstock Festival, with the majority of the festival’s flaws coming down to poor planning. Those in charge had no idea how many attendees would come out for the festival, meaning they’re not prepared for the event that ended up unfolding. While the outdoor concert event certainly created some memorable footage and launched the careers of some notable musicians. And those who were actually there likely weren’t having as good of a time as some may believe.
Many will likely have heard that the 1969 Woodstock Festival was free to attend, but that wasn’t the intention. In fact, tickets to the festival originally supposed to cost a little over $20 at the door. And which isn’t that far of a cry from the price of an average festival ticket nowadays once you factor in inflation. Though the event wasn’t supposed to be free. And those in charge did not plan on the massive number of attendees that would come to the event looking for tickets. In addition to there simply being too many attendees looking to get into the festival. And matters were made worse when a group of anarchists tore down the festival’s barriers. And allowing anyone in the area free and easy entry.
Despite the organizers’ intentions, the 1969 Woodstock Festival ended up being completely open to the public. When there’s no control over the number of people being let into the festival. It led to a variety of other issues. The massive amount of festival attendees quickly consumed all of the food and water available. Leading to a shortage throughout most of the festival. The organizers had taken the cheap route of hiring some local hippies to cook up hot dogs. But there simply weren’t enough hot dogs to go around. They tried to solve the problem by increasing the prices of the hot dogs. But that did little to satiate the hunger of the crowd.
John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival has recalled the distaster he felt when he arrived at the festival and saw that attendees being charged for water. And which he thought didn’t fit with the supposed “free love” message of the festival. Water became so sparse during the festival that the price for a glass went from being only a couple of cents to a full dollar. And which ridiculous given the value of a dollar in those days. Although the 1969 Woodstock Festival may have accidentally become a free event. You needed to have some cash on you if you wanted to eat or drink.
In addition to food and water shortages, the massive crowds of people that had shown up for the 1969 Woodstock Festival also caused traffic jams that made life a living hell. It is for not only the attendees but also for the people that lived in the area where the festival was taking place. People in the area had convinced to allow the festival to happen. Thinking it might be good for business, but they had no idea how insane things were going to become. Once the festival started, many who lived in the area found that they essentially forced to stay in their houses.
There were so many people at the 1969 Woodstock Festival that it has been estimated that there was only one toilet for every 1,000 festival attendees. Of course, it didn’t take long before people started finding other means to relieve themselves. And one can imagine that much of the muddy waters making up the swampy area became infested with a good deal of sewage over the course of the event. This is perhaps part of why the area where the concert festival took place has since labeled hazardous! If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support. Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
It should go without saying that there was rampant drug use at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. There were hippies holding signs advertising tablets of acid for only a dollar. And those attending claimed that it nearly impossible to consume any food or water without accidentally getting dosed with the drug. There were reportedly over 700 drug overdoses over the course of the event. Though there were thankfully only two deaths as a result. Still, the ideal death count for any festival should be zero.
In addition to the two deaths from drug overdoses. There’s also an incident where a sleeping festival attendee run over by a tractor. The tractor driver trying to pick up the massive amounts of trash that had left behind by attendees. And had tried his best to clear the area of people. Still, there’s apparently one festival attendee left behind. By the time that the driver realized what had happened, it was too late.
While 700 drug overdoses may seem like a ridiculous sum, there were even more foot injuries! There reported to have nearly 1,000 foot injuries that had to treated over the course of the 1969 Woodstock Festival due to the fact that it’s hippie attendees refused to put on shoes. Other notable mishaps that occurred at the festival include a handful of alleged births. And including one that supposed to have taken place during one of the festival’s infamous traffic jams. However, no one has ever come forward and claimed the title of being one of the children birthed at the festival. So there has yet to be any proof that these births occurred.
While there have only three confirmed deaths that occurred as a result of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. And there were almost many, many more! During the festival, an exposed electrical cable had walked over one time too many by festival attendees. By the time technicians realized what was going on. The wire so exposed that it could’ve sparked a mass electrocution of the audience! The people running the festival were afraid that the crowds would riot if they turned the power off. But they thankfully were able to fix the problem before people died. Still, it was a stroke of luck that kept the death toll from becoming a great deal larger.
Despite all of the many problems that occurred at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. One might think that it would’ve been worth it for the musical performances alone. However, not all of the musical performances as great as the iconic few that featured in the 1970 documentary Woodstock. For every hit performance, such as the one from legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, there was a dud. And such as the one from the Grateful Dead. Although the Grateful Dead was certainly a skilled live band. Unfortunate events related to the festival itself made their set a disaster. Similarly, the festival found many other bands out of their element. The Who’s Pete Townsend notoriously incredibly agitated during his time at Woodstock. And the band was not in the best mood when they finally went on stage at five in the morning.
While the 1969 Woodstock Festival may not have all that it cracked up to be, it nowhere near the disaster that the 1999 Woodstock Festival was. In retrospect, many feel that the idyllic and false image of the 1969 Woodstock Festival’s success has led others to try and recreate it. The false image perpetuated by the 1970 documentary Woodstock glossed over the fact that the festival only kept from being a monumental disaster by pure luck. The 1969 Woodstock Festival was no dream. But it could’ve been much, much worse given the lack of planning and many of the dangers involved.
When the 1999 Woodstock Festival proved to be an unmitigated disaster with riots and rampant amounts of sexual assault. People saw this as a sign that the times had changed over the 30 years since the original iteration of the festival. However, many others felt that the disaster of the 1999 Woodstock Festival was more emblematic of the inherent flaw of the festival’s concept.
As more recent festival disasters, such as those that occurred at the Fyre Festival and the 2021 Astroworld Festival. And have further shown, it’s important to know what you’re doing when it comes to events that feature giant crowds! Another iteration of the Woodstock Festival planned in 2019 for the original festival’s 50th anniversary. And to dubbed Woodstock 50. However, the festival canceled during the planning stages because too many people involved realized that it was simply a poor concept.
The 1969 Woodstock Festival may have seemed like heaven on earth from the outside looking in. But being there was more like being inside of a nightmare than a dream for many involved. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that the 1969 Woodstock Festival was a giant mess. Or did you always assume that it had perfectly encapsulated the ideals of the hippie movement that preceded it? As always, like this video to show your support. And subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!