BETHEL — Plenty has changed since Woodstock took place 50 years ago, but all its history remains.

In 1969, an estimated crowd of 450,000 people attended the four-day concert that etched lifelong memories in the minds of all who went.

MUSIC AND ART

More than 100,000 people are expected to return to Bethel for a second chance at history at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that began Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Spirits were high Friday as festival goers dressed in '60s garb flocked to what once was Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm before the original festival took place.

The same sacred ground now is known as Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which showcases all the history of the monumental 1969 concert.

STARR OF THE SHOW

The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” echoed from a 1969 Ford Econoline in event parking, as people sat outside their vehicles enjoying food and friendship, anticipating a Ringo Starr concert to be held in the evening.

“Ringo Starr is the main reason we are here,” said northern Pennsylvania resident John Johnson, getting out of his car along with his wife Maggie.

“When the original Woodstock was here, I was serving in Vietnam. If I would have been in the country, I would have been here.”

16 AT THE TIME

Maggie was dying to go 50 years ago, but it was not to be.

“I was 16 at the time, so my mother was not going to allow me to go to the concert back then,” she said.

Maggie bought the concert tickets in April for this weekend's event, knowing they would sell fast.

“Getting to be here has been incredible. I’ve had so many cool moments already," she said.

"I’m celebrating my birthday (Friday), and this is a birthday I will never forget.”

'HAPPY TO BE ALIVE'

In addition to Ringo Starr, the long-weekend event also is slated to feature performances from Edgar Winter Band and Blood, Sweat & Tears as well as Santana with the Doobie Brothers, and John Fogerty with Tedeschi Trucks Band and Grace Potter.

While the original festival will never be duplicated, Marianne Trovato, who attended Woodstock in 1969, said she can still feel the enthusiasm she experienced 50 years ago.

“Somehow, when I pulled into the parking lot, I felt energized,” Trovato said. “I felt like I was back again and felt like I was 22. I felt young again, and it just put me in that spirit where you feel happy to be alive.”

WALKED FOR MILES

Trovato, a Philadelphia native, went to Woodstock with a group of her friends just after graduating from college a few months earlier.

The group’s expectations of the concert did not come close to its reality.

“We drove up from Philadelphia, and we left the car on the thruway and walked about five or six miles to actually make it the rest of the way,” Trovato said.

“It sounds like a lot, but it’s easy to walk that much when you are 22. We were laughing and carrying on as we made our way to the concert.”

FEEL YOUNG AGAIN

Trovato and her friends persevered through wet, steamy days as well as cold, dreary nights during their time at Woodstock, but those negative factors didn’t ruin the experience.

“Because of how much fun I had then, I did want to come back here for the 50th anniversary. I knew it would make me feel young again for a day or two.”

Trovato’s husband Joe did not attend Woodstock but said he was happy to be with his wife to relive history.

“We had planned this since last year,” he said.

“We lined up a place to stay as soon as we heard this event was going to be held. The atmosphere here is incredible. Hopefully, this creates a memory we will cherish forever.”

Email Kayla Breen:

kbreen@pressrepublican.com

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