FULTON, NY – Bell bottoms, tie-dye, peace signs, bright colors, and plenty of groovy music.
Those are the sights and sounds that brought Fulton back to 1969 and the year’s iconic festival, Woodstock.
Friends of History in Fulton, Inc. transformed the Fulton restaurant Tavern On The Lock to stir up memories of the peaceful festival, a staple in music history.
More than 60 people attended Friends of History in Fulton’s “Remembering Woodstock” event, reliving the magic with a themed buffet dinner, memorabilia of the time, and the musical stylings of Mike MacDonald playing some of the front runners from the festival.
“We are so happy to see the wonderful turnout and relive the past through music,” said event co-chair, Carole Farfaglia.
And that they did, especially according to three guests who were in attendance at the original Woodstock festival nearly 50 years ago who all agreed, the nostalgia was real.
Held on a 600-acre dairy farm, more than half a million people attended Woodstock, a music and art fair centering around leading and emerging musical acts of the time in the small New York town of Bethel.
Originally requiring tickets, the crowd became so large the event was opened up to the public for free as cars lined for miles upon miles and people came from all over to join together in music.
“Quite a few people from Fulton made the trip,” said Alan Cady, an original Woodstock guest who, together with his friend, Gary Chalone drew up quite the list of Fultonians that shared the experience.
While Chalone and Cady knew each other before Woodstock, the festival brought them together at a time in their lives when they did not live in the same place.
Cady made the trip from Fulton while Chalone traveled from his place of living at the time in Poughkeepsie.
They described the festival as “wet, but mostly amazing.”
Despite a crowd of more than half a million people, the atmosphere was friendly as the pair recalled strangers sharing everything they had – from food to shoulders to sleep on during the occasional crash.
Chalone, who carries his original Woodstock ticket in his wallet everyday, said that even the police presence was friendly with virtually no problems throughout the entire four-day fest.
While Cady and Chalone kept in contact throughout the years, neither knew the other would be appearing at Friends of History’s “Remembering Woodstock” event. An act of nature bringing two friends back together with Woodstock at the heart.
Similarly, Alan Lane lived in Poughkeepsie during 1969. Though he thought the event was being overhyped, he decided it would be worth the trip when the NYS Thruway closed as a result.
Driving 70 miles, parking more than 10 miles away from the venue, and braving the rain, Lane still described Woodstock as nothing short of magical.
He fondly recollected a quick crash during the days long event, of which he woke up to the musical stylings of Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner.
“That was pretty cool,” he recalled with a smile.
The Friends of History’s “Remembering Woodstock” event was a great way for him to draw up several other fond memories, including a reason to pull out a couple relics from the time.
He sported a belt around his waist and leather band around his wrist that he had worn during the original Woodstock festival.
All the while listening to Mike MacDonald recreate the music that the then 18-year-old Lane had once rocked out to.
“I think he’s doing awesome,” Lane said of MacDonald. “He’s very good, but to be a single person and play songs that required more than one person, he’s doing a great job.”
MacDonald referred to the night as a blast from the past, giving him a chance to freshen up on his music from decades ago and allow the crowd to reminisce on simpler times.
“We seemed to have jogged a lot of memories with the atmosphere and the music,” said co-chair, Ed Farfaglia.
The money garnered from the event will go toward maintenance of the John Wells Pratt House Museum located at 177 S. First St., Fulton and a Friends of History scholarship for $300 offered to a G. Ray Bodley High School graduating senior with an interest in history.
“This event has been absolutely great,” said Friends of History President, LaVerne DeLand. “We had such an age range of guests, even people from out of town, and had more people dress in theme than ever!”
Friends of History in Fulton board members will set their sights on next year’s annual theme party.