I went to Woodstock last weekend. No, not the concert site. The village.
We all know by now that the most famous concert of all time was not really in Woodstock. Not by a long shot. It was actually held in a map dot called Bethel, 45 miles away.
Confusing? I agree.
The 1969 concert was the iconic music benchmark of my generation. What started out as a music exposition in Max Yasgur’s rye pasture turned into an unimaginable sensation. The largest concert crowd up to that date flooded the dusty back roads of Sullivan County (“a half a million strong,” in the words of concert act Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). Babies were born there, people did illegal things there, people came together in a spirit of free love and universal peace and, much to the chagrin of the concert organizers, almost nobody paid. (Hence the famous public address announcement “It’s a free concert, man!”).
No, I didn’t go to that Woodstock. I went to the other one last weekend.
The village of Woodstock tries its level best to maintain the standards of the 1969 event. Main Street has an easy, breezy feel to it, unhurried, relaxed. Some might even call the atmosphere “groovy.” The businesses run from high-end art galleries to head shops selling everything from “Impeach Nixon” buttons to hemp shirts.
There are several great restaurants, wine bars and bakeries in Woodstock proper and a lot of Hudson Valley history. Old homes, white-spired stone churches, a village green, ancient cemeteries and crooked sidewalks all give Woodstock a New Englandy feeling. It’s a fun place to meet up with old friends for a cup of coffee or a microbrew.
Of course, if you are of an age, say in your 60s, it is even better. This place is made for those of us who consider ourselves aged hippies now living a retirement-focused, buttoned-down mindset.