- Woodstock’s 30th anniversary festival in 1999 devolved into chaos.
- Oppressive heat, high concession prices, and inadequate facilities riled up attendees.
- Over the three-day festival, 1,200 people were treated at the festival’s medical facilities, 44 arrests were made, and there were four reported sexual assaults.
A celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair will be held in August 2019 on the event’s original site. Hopefully it goes better than the 30th anniversary celebration in 1999, which was marred by looting, violence, and destruction.
Not unlike the notorious Fyre Festival that ended in disaster, Woodstock ’99 was ill-equipped to handle the amount of people who attended and quickly got out of hand.
Here’s what happened.
Woodstock 1999 had problems from the start.
The three-day event was attended by between 225,000 and 250,000 people, held at an abandoned Air Force base in Rome, New York.
The facilities weren’t equipped to handle such large crowds.
Temperatures soared over 100 degrees. With little shade, long walks between stages, and vendors hiking up the price of bottled water to $US4, some resorted to breaking pipes to gain access to water, creating mud pits on the grounds.
People stood in line for hours to access ATM machines and eventually broke into them to steal cash. The bathrooms were also overwhelmed, causing toilets to overflow.
By the last day of Woodstock, people were ready to do some damage.
Some of the bands also played a part in riling up the crowd. SFGate reports that Insane Clown Posse threw $US100 bills into the crowd and watched people fight over them, and Kid Rock encouraged the crowd to throw plastic water bottles at the stage.
When the Red Hot Chilli Peppers began their set, vandals set fires across the grounds.
The band then launched into a cover of “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix.
The candles were supposed to be used for a vigil by an anti-gun group.
Instead, they were used to set enormous bonfires.
People looted the grounds and tossed debris into the fires.
They also ripped plywood off the fence surrounding the Air Force base to add fuel to the fires.
Trailers were set ablaze.
About 1,200 people were treated at the festival’s medical facilities over the course of its three-days, according to The Huffington Post.
Concert-goers climbed speaker towers and tore them down.
But they didn’t stop there.
They then tossed them into the fire.
The fires lasted into the early morning hours.
People looted supply trailers.
ATM machines were also looted.
Ace Hardware’s trailer became a free-for-all.
Looters took bounty from Ace Hardware trailers parked in the campground.
Cars were overturned in the chaos.
Woodstock ’99 attendees cheered on the bottom of an overturned Mercedes-Benz near the East stage.
Eventually, New York State troopers got involved.
Over the three days of Woodstock ’99, 44 people were arrested.
The grounds were left in smouldering ruins.
By morning after those three days, the destruction had finally come to a close.
The San Francisco Chronicle called Woodstock ’99 “the day the music died.”
Tents and booths were destroyed, trailers were burned, concert lights and a speaker tower were toppled, and mobs looted supply tents. While there were no fatalities, there were 1,200 injuries, 44 arrests, and four alleged sexual assaults.
- Read more:
- A Woodstock 50th anniversary festival to be held at the original site
- 26 vintage photos of music festivals that will make you want to go back in time
- 15 vintage pictures from the greatest music festival of all time
- 20 surprising things that are turning 50 this year
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