Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sorry to Say but The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is So (NOT) Woodstock!

OK, I wasn't really expecting to be transported back to 1969, but the trip to Bethel Woods (the site of the Woodstock Festival) was disappointing. The place has been transformed into a museum/concert venue/catering and special events location. Everything is beautifully done from the landscaped gardens complete with bridges and ponds to the glass and wood museum building complete with cafe to the outdoor stage complete with lawn chair rentals and there was plenty of parking.

That's the problem, there was no feeling of spontaneity, earthiness or noise. My husband thought the whole place looked like a country club. The grounds were so manicured, we couldn't even determine exactly where the stage and crowds had been for the actual Woodstock event. And there were no signs or markers leading the way... almost as if the operators of Bethel Woods wanted to lure us to "Woodstock" but without having any hedonistic memories bubble to the surface!

To be fair, the outdoor stage area must be a lovely place to attend a summer evening concert and I'm sure they limit the number of attendees to something a bit less than 500,000. (The cost of tickets alone would do that.) The museum had very few actual artifacts but I did enjoy watching the films (there were several of them) and learning more about the four guys who planned Woodstock, who they invited to perform and who they didn't and how the townspeople reacted to the event.

The museum shop was out of the T-shirt my friend would have bought (from the famous poster with the guitar and dove) but she was told she could purchase it online. The part I enjoyed the most was the special exhibition of photos taken during John and Yoko's eight days in bed to protest the Vietnam War in 1969. This is a traveling exhibit and will be at Bethel Woods through early September.

Ah can't always go back...and I won't.

No comments: