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Dedicated to the Historic Preservation of the Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival

THE WOODSTOCK SITE
Hurd & West Shore Rds
Sullivan County
Bethel  NY


 

Bethel Planning Board Meeting - March 9, 2004

STATEMENT FROM ARTIE KORNFELD, WOODSTOCK '69 CO-CREATOR
(Transcribed from audio tape)

This is Artie Kornfeld. Good to talk to you guys again… haven’t seen you since we all met in the…café…in the little diner in town…the week before Woodstock 2 which I refused to do, cause I didn’t want to spoil what you had, as I consider it probably the most valuable real estate to a lot of people in the world. And that’s in the town of Bethel.

What I am concerned about, and why I’ve been involved with the WPA, and as I actually said so in interviews about my book which is out now, where I’ll have a lot of interviews, and they’re going to ask me about the site and what’s going on…is what’s troubling me is that Mr. Gerry, although I appreciate the fact that he has…although there has been pressure on him…that he has come to some kind of sense and…downsized…what he was going to do.

What I’m not happy about is the 38 acres that was Woodstock and that really should be a national monument, which would make all of your land values go up like crazy, which means you can have campgrounds all around the place, which means you could have new businesses opening up-not just depending on Mr. Gerry. If just those 38 acres were considered a national site and some money was put into it. Well, Mr. Gerry put some money into it and making sure it is preserved as it is. And I’m talking about everything from the stage past where he proposes to build buildings.

Keep the buildings off the original 38 acres. It’s gonna take away the magic. I get probably 2000 emails on probably 200 sites…a month…and I know when I did Entertainment Tonight, talked about Woodstock, they had one of the largest call-ins after I went on the air of any show they had done. It’s amazing…I’ve done a thousand radio interviews and that VH1 special that they were only supposed to run 5 times but due to demand they [have run numerous times over the past ten years].

I am the guy who raised the money by running the ads in my other three partners didn’t want and brought in the million-five to add to the two hundred and fifty thousand Joel and John put in. I brought that in that million five after they screwed up and took the Wallkill site, which I’d never agreed to. And…I was the guy who Max Yasgur’s nephew called and said my uncle’s in trouble and I need your help. And that’s how the Yasgur site came into the picture.

I want to preserve the Woodstock Nation. I’ve dedicated 35 years of my life, and even though Michael Lang and I did produce the movie, I’m the guy who raised the money two days before so that this movie could be shot and made the record deal. Otherwise, Woodstock would’ve disappeared like Monterey did. There’s no monuments or sites or anything happening with the Monterey site where that happened. Or the Us festival that Apple computer was behind. But you have something so valuable …and when I go on that site, what I feel on that site is…the magic of all the hopes and dreams that was America. And I think that holds true for the Woodstock Nation which is probably over a hundred million people.
 
It’s three generations. So what I am begging you guys is to, and Mr. Gerry, mostly through you, is giving you this statement saying that I will do anything I can to help you rebuild your part of Sullivan County. I emailed Mr. Gerry when he first announced his plans, that he had acquired the land and followed it up with a letter through the WPA that was registered, and he didn’t return either one. Although Michael Lang who you most, I know from our meetings were not very thrilled with and with the other two parties lost 50 million dollars with the other Woodstocks…and you know I kept out of that. I never did Woodstock for money. I did Woodstock cause Woodstock had to happen.

And we can keep Woodstock happening and we could make your land thrive. And with Mr. Gerry’s help, and what he’s doing, don’t get me wrong, he’s doing a wonderful thing for Sullivan County and I thank him for that. But what I do not thank him for is his thoughts about desecrating a sacred place. And it’s your sacred place Town of Bethel and you’re not looking at the overall picture if this is made a national preserved site. Okay, that’s 38 acres we’re talking about. Like I said before, you’ll have the campgrounds, you’ll have hotels opening up again, and with the stuff he builds… God, if the guy would call me, I’d tell him…you know I’d tell him how I’d got those seven million people on the road. I’d tell him the correct things to do. Since Woodstock, I have promoted over a hundred number one records, so I do know our audience and I do know the people that are going to come to Sullivan County. Having spent my youth going up every summer to the Windsor hotel and those bungalow colonies and…being a counselor and working in the hotels with the kids. This is very dear land to me and after Woodstock it became sacred to my life. And it’s sacred to so many other people’s lives.

Do not let this 38 acres go down…preserve it the way it is without fences…have a stage up there, let people come and play, pass the hat… you know, all things to work out. But that’s going to get 30 to 40 to 50 thousand people a year coming up to you, knowing that they don’t have to spend $300 to go through all of Mr. Gerry’s Disneyland Dreams. By coming back to the real heart and soul of three generations of the Woodstock Nation.

I beg you. Fight for your rights. Sometimes something that looks so beautiful when you get really close to it, it’s very ugly, and I think what’s happening here is the idea of Mr. Gerry’s plans bringing in all these people is a very fine idea, but there’s a very fine line between that idea and turning it into a very negative…taking away the magic of the area and this site’s going under. I don’t know if people who like to go to the Lincoln Center to see the Philharmonic or Carnegie Hall are going to want to go to Sullivan County but I sure do know that between 5 and a hundred thousand people will show up on that site every year. It’s only going to be good for business. And it’s going to be good for all of our peace of mind, and our hopes and dreams will stay alive. If he has his way totally, they will die. And so will the economy of Sullivan County. Despite his good intentions, which I don’t know exist as he never returned my call or contact.

Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you guys again. By the way, if any of you have an (original) poster get in touch with the WPA because I’ve donated a hundred platinum records and everything I had from Woodstock including the first poster and the gold LP to cancer for children and aids for children’s research. So if anybody’s got a poster, you gave me one when I was there in ninety-uh, whenever Woodstock 2 was. I wiped out the day because it was a black day in history. So, get me a poster (laugh). Get in touch with Brad at WPA.

God bless you all and I look forward to seeing you cause I am going to come up this summer. To that other site 5 miles away [Roy Howard’s Yasgur’s farm]…I wish it was on the original site but unfortunately, we can’t be there. Open it up and say welcome to the new home of Woodstock, 5 miles away from our sacred ground. See you there guys, I look forward to seeing you and having coffee. Bye!




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