Woodstock 50th anniversary comes to Lakeland

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Zya Crawford

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the famous Woodstock Music and Arts Festival that took place summer of 1969. To celebrate, more than 80 musical acts spanning various generations and musical styles are set to perform this summer in Watkins Glen, New York.

On August 15, 1969 half a million people waited on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York for the three-day music festival to begin. The event would later be known to be a peaceful celebration that’s earned its place in pop culture history. It started with four young men looking for an investment opportunity: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang. 

They formed Woodstock Ventures, Inc., and decided to host a music festival. Creedence Clearwater Revival was the first big-name talent to sign on, which gave Woodstock the credibility it needed to attract other well-known musicians. Woodstock has become such cultural phenomenon in United history, it’s legacy has even spread to Lakeland.

To Florida Southern sophomore Max Giard, Woodstock is a part of his family tradition. Max’s grandfather, Ronald Giard, attended the first festival in 1969. His father, John Giard, attended the second festival in 1994, promoted as “2 More Days of Peace and Music” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival. 

John got the chance to meet Todd Rundgren, one of his favorite artists and mentioned that he was a drummer. When it came time for Rundgren to preform, to his surprise, John was asked to come up on stage to play drums for one of his songs. As for this year’s festival Max definitely plans on attending. 

When asked about this year’s performing artist, he was pleased at how diverse the lineup was. “Woodstock is known to have various genres. You have performers from Miley Cyrus to Chance the Rapper, to Judah and the Lion, it’s all about peace and bringing people together.”

Today, the festival grounds are home to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which includes a 1960s museum among other Woodstock memrobillia. The event played a major role in the counterculture movement of the 1960s. In 1969, the country was deep into the controversial Vietnam War, a conflict that many young people were opposed by. Woodstock became an opportunity for people to escape into music and spread a message of unity and peace.

Lakeland plans to bring Woodstock to locals with their Return to Woodstock concert at The Polk Theatre. On April 20, Sun Events is hosting the 50th anniversary of rock and roll with two hours of peace and music. The national touring Paisley Craze Band will be performing classics from artist during the Woodstock era; Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who and many more. 

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for pre-show festivities, including Woodstock trivia, tie-dye merchandise, photo-booths and more. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are starting at $29 and can be purchased online at sunevents.com or by contacting the box office at (863) 682-7553.

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