“There were cows at the festival? I had no clue Max had cows!” said Walnut Ridge Dairy farmer, Skip Hardie. Dairy farming wasn’t on his radar at the time.
Reflecting back 50 years ago, in 1969, the only thing Skip had in common with dairy farmer Max Yasgur was that they were both at Woodstock. With nearly half a million people. And hearing lots of great music!
There were many memorable moments on stage. For Skip, the best was Jimi Hendrix playing the Star-Spangled Banner. And the moment in the spotlight for the man on whose farm Woodstock was held: Max Yasgur.
“I remember when he came up on stage, people went crazy! He was as unprepared as the rest of us for what happened,” says Skip.
Cheers errupted soon after Max spoke his first few words: “I’m a farmer…” When Max talked, it was all “Bring on the music!” said Skip.
It was by happenstance that Skip even went to the festival. That spring, he was in a farming accident. His injuries forced Skip to miss his senior class trip to Washington, D.C. In lieu, his mom proposed a trip closer to home. A festival in Bethel she had read about in a newspaper clipping. She bought tickets for her son and a couple of his friends. “Three 18-year-old boys. We had no idea what to expect,” said Skip.
The drive from Lansing, New York, where Skip farms to this day, was only a couple of hours away. The festival took place on a tract of land Max Yasgur used for growing hay to feed his 550 Holsteins.
“It was hot, dry, wet, dirty, dusty. Absolutely hippie city. If you asked somebody for the shirt off his back, he’d give it to you. If anybody acted aggressive or disruptive, they took the guy aside and told him to cool down or leave,” says Skip. The friends stayed all three days of the festival.
Looking back, Skip says he’s glad that he went, “Hell yes! Somewhere I still have the ‘Woodstock quilt’ that I slept on.”
He’s still in close touch with the friends he went with to the concert.
And knowing he was at the original Woodstock festival Skip says, “It made me seem much cooler to my kids when they found out, which surprised me. We just kind of lucked into it! Just dumb, stupid luck.”
The guitar and dove became the symbol of the Woodstock Music Festival. This plaque is on the marker that sits on the original site.
Photo via ABC News (Baron Wolman/Bethel Woods Center for the Arts)