by Mel Chayette, Knollwood School

In this webquest, students will research the performers of the Woodstock 1969 festival, the circumstances surrounding the event, and what happened at the actual concerts. They will then create a proposal of how to better plan Woodstock to accommodate all the fans who showed up.

Introduction

The late 1960s were a time of revolution, man. Folk music made a comeback with artists like Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and many others who brought messages of peace and freedom from oppression with their acoustic guitars and protest songs. Out of the blues and rock n' roll movements was growing progressive and psychedelic rock, with artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Deep Purple, Cream, Led Zepplin, and Pink Floyd beginning their rises to fame. Other changes were happening besides the music. By the end of the 60s, Americans were divided over US involvement in the Vietnam War. This gave rise to the hippie movement, which reached its height in the summer of 1969. 

When you think of hippies, you'll probably think of long hair, afros, bell-bottoms, flower prints, colored sunglasses, and the smell of patchouli. The hippies were mostly young people who held anti-establishment, anti-war, and environmentalist views, as well as taking many elements of eastern spirituality. In the summer of 1967, many of them hitchhiked out to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, California for the Summer of Love. This was to be a gathering of like-minded people, who all believed in peace, love freedom, and music. It was also a protest of the Vietnam War, one of America's longest and most unpopular wars. Protest songs became big hits, like Bob Dylan's Blowin' In the Wind.

A few years later on the other side of the country, in Bethel, NY, one of the most important events in American music (and the last great moment of the hippie movement) was being planned. Four young friends decided to throw a music festival they were calling An Aquarian Exposition: Three Days of Peace and Music, also known as the Woodstock Music Festival. They rented a field, sold tickets, hired bands, and got food, but things didn't quite go as planned. Woodstock has gone down in concert history as one of the most significant and also one of the most poorly planned events ever.