spirit rocks on at bethel woods by Timothy Malcolm
Projecting the spirit of 1960s counterculture while presenting year-round music and educational programming, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts remains a necessary destination for music lovers of all kinds 10 years after its creation.
“Once people come here, they realize the depth and breadth of what we do,” says Bethel Woods CEO Darlene Fedun.
“They realize there’s more to do here, and quite frankly, this is a great place to visit, just to lay on the grass and have a picnic.”
“We examine the past to understand how we got to today and then hope to shape the future,” Darlene sais. “What went on in [the 1960s] means something.”
The venue is on the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which brought 400,000 people to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm one August weekend. It featured performances by Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, the Band, and countless other rock stars of the 1960s. The event simultaneously helped make music history and raised the voices of America’s youth during turbulent political, cultural, and social times.
Visitors to Bethel Woods can reimagine the concert— marked by a stone monument—since the venue left much of the field intact. The Museum at Bethel Woods, an immersive experience that includes a deep look at the festival plus rotating exhibitions that focus on the impact of 1960s culture, brings context to the visit. This year’s offerings include the photography exhibit by Grey Villet, Rights, Race, and Revolutions: A Portrait of LIFE in 1960s America, and an extensive look at Bethel Woods’ first 10 years
History often carries over to the mainstage, a pavilion that can seat 15,000 and hosts regular summer concerts. The 2016 slate includes performances by Pitbull, Miranda Lambert, Journey, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Don Henley, and the Beach Boys. Visiting artists frequently pay respects to the hallowed Woodstock site and typically leave Bethel Woods with strong impressions.
“We have earned a great reputation in the music industry,” Darlene says. “Artists enjoy coming here. We treat them exceptionally well, just like we do our guests; they are our guests, in fact.”
From the natural bowl amphitheater, to market sheds that can host small events and gatherings, to manicured grounds fit for weekend festivals, to an event gallery that hosts intimate yearround shows, Bethel Woods does it all for music lovers excited to feel the spirit of the 1960s in the heart of Sullivan County. BETHEL WOODS CENTER FOR THE ARTS
200 Hurd Road, Bethel