August 16, 1969 – A Big Rock Festival In The Little Helpless Town Of Bethel – Woodstock

Woodstock - aerial view - August 1969
From Bethel to The World descending on Woodstock – “Turn Around – Go Back!” (photo: ©Barry Z Levine

August 16, 1969 – While violence raged in Northern Ireland, and casualties mounted daily, on the other side of the Atlantic – on perhaps another planet altogether, some 300,000 people descended on the small farming town of Bethel New York, the site of the 1st Annual Woodstock Music and Arts Festival.

300,000 and counting – roads were clogged, people parked their cars along roads and hiked in. The sheer numbers of people overwhelmed ticket takers and the festival turned into a free-for-all – with so many people jammed into such a small space Doctors and supplies had to be helicoptered in. And although the city officials of Bethel pleaded with people by way of radio and TV to not come, or to turn around if they were on their way, the people kept coming – and the normally bucolic pastures of Max Yasgur’s farm were turned into seas of people and mud and camping equipment and debris as the largest assembly of people for a music festival got down and got crazy with some of the greatest names in 60s Rock. And it was only Day Two.

So while Woodstock was happening, there was other news for this day – aside from the violence raging in Northern Ireland, came fears in Los Angeles over a repeat of the grisly murders which took place near the exclusive neighborhood of Bel Air only nights before on the 8th. The murder victims included actress Sharon Tate and four others and the murders sent a chill throughout the community while Police and detectives searched for the killers.

And the investigation was still ongoing over the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne from the accident involving Senator Ted Kennedy on Chappaquiddick island in Massachusetts.

And that’s just some of the news which took place on this August 16, 1969, as presented by Chet Huntley and the NBC Nightly News.

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