UNCG Campus Weekly

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By the time Allan Goldfarb got to Woodstock …

Photo of Dr. Allan Goldfarb.Woodstock marks its 50th anniversary this week. One Spartan professor was there.

Dr. Allan Goldfarb, professor of kinesiology. He is an exercise physiologist with a research specialization in biochemistry.

He was at the big festival by happenstance. He loved music – in fact, he saw Bob Dylan twice earlier in the decade at small clubs in Greenwich Village, he says. But in the summer of 1969, he was a college student working the summer in New York’s Catskills area as a waiter in a hotel.

“I remember seeing people coming in for weeks ahead of time,” he recalled.

He was something of a “local,” he explained. “My grandparents had a house in Liberty, New York, and my aunt and uncle in Smallwood, New York – which was only about eight miles from where the festival was.”

Woodstock, 1969. Photo by Mark Golf

He knew the terrain and the back roads (which proved helpful to him.) In fact, he had been a counselor in a day camp in previous years near the site – “It was on the road leading to the pond where the people were bathing in the ‘Woodstock’ movie.”

What are his strongest memories? “I remember the stage being put up and the big towers. I also remember the lines of cars backing up for miles and miles along 17 B and the Thruway.” There were traffic jams for 30 miles, he recalls.

“My cousins helped hand out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to lots of people who did not have access to food.” Another family intersection with Woodstock history? His uncle (the cousins’ father) was the lawyer who represented Suffolk County to try to stop Woodstock festival, he added.

His work schedule that week allowed him only to visit the festival site very late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. His knowledge of the back roads proved essential. “I was able to get to the area and walk to the event” about 1.5 miles on foot.

“I did not have a ticket to the event.” At that point, who cared? No one was taking tickets.

What performers did he see? The Who and part of the Jefferson Airplane set. And in-between the sets, he talked with people and walked around. He hadn’t brought a blanket or chair. The ground was wet. So he ambled. It was a wonderful gathering of humanity, many roughly his age.

Unfortunately, he had to get back to his job that morning.

But the music was a big draw for him. “I knew from the ads and posters that some of the greatest bands in rock & roll and folk would be there.”

It turns out, he’d caught two of the most legendary sets from the festival. The distinctive sound of the “Airplane” slowly faded to silence as he made his way back to his car.

There’s a misconception about Woodstock, he explained. People were there for the music. Most weren’t there for politics, or anything else. The fantastic line-up was what drew the immense crowd.

“We were all very young and wanted to be heard. The music was one of our voices.”

Download the video transcript

By Mike Harris
Photography: public domain.
Video by Matthew Bryant (interviewed by Mike Harris and Matthew Bryant)