Woodstock revisited

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Joleigh Engel of New Ulm, center, wears flowers in her hair at “I Was THERE Man!,” an all-day Woodstock experience at The Grand Center for Arts & Culture Sunday. Pictured to the right of Engel are Rhonda Johnson of New Ulm and Brad Dixon of Rochester.

NEW ULM — The essence of Woodstock came alive Sunday on its 50th anniversary with music, long hair, colorful clothes, flowers and beads at The Grand Center for Arts & Culture.

“I Was THERE Man!” drew people who came in Volkswagon bus and a 1960 Ford station wagon, who relived 1969, the year America landed a man on the moon and the largest outdoor concert ever attempted with three days of music and peace in upstate New York.

Chicago historian Ellie Carlson narrated Woodstock in detail to a room full of people, many of whom were dressed as colorfully as they could be.

She played Woodstock music and described Woodstock while a small cast played a number of characters including Dan Hoisington as Max Yasgur, who rented much of his New York dairy farm for the 32-act musical event.

“I love New Ulm. I’ve been here before and plan to come back,” said Carlson who does a number of costumed interpretations including Queen victoria, Carry A. Nation and Mamie Doud Eisenhower. She is also the owner and manager of The Chicago Salmon, which plays Civl War era baseball.

Some of the lesser-known acts at Woodstock, often regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history and a defining time for the counterculture generation, included the clean-up after the fest.

“People were hired to clean up for three and one-half weeks,” Carlson said. “Many things left at the farm after Woodstock were donated to the Salvation Army in New York City to aid homeless people.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) was the first act to sign a Woodstock contract, which opened the door for other big acts to sign on.

Jimi Hendrix was the last act to perform at the festival. His psychedelic rendition of The Star Spangled Banner while wearing a blue-beaded, white leather jacket with fringe and a red head scarf was captured in the Wood stock film and was considered a defining moment of the 1960s.

Other Woodstock acts included Arlo Gutherie, Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Santana, John Sebastian, Canned Heat, Mountain, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin with the Kosmic Blues Band, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Blood Sweat & Tears; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Sha Na Na.

The Grand’s Executive Director, Anne Makepeace, said Sunday’s event raised more than $8,000 to support live music at the center.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fritzbuschman@yahoo.com.