With all this reminiscing about the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I remember there being a rock festival around Gonzales that same year. What can you tell us about the location, dates and groups who played there?
It surely seemed last August that just about everyone wanted to commemorate the anniversary of this unique event, even folks who never got there. The Woodstock Music & Art Fair near Bethel, N.Y. took place in mid-August 1969, and more than 450,000 people flocked to a pasture on a dairy farm for an event that turned out to be one of the greatest moments in popular music history. It was billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music."
Not long after, Louisiana had its own version of Woodstock on Labor Day weekend — Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 1969. The crowd was much smaller. Only 40,000 or 50,000 folks descended on the Louisiana International Speedway, a race track in Prairieville, near Baton Rouge.
The poster that advertised the event and listed all of the performers and the times they would play came with a caution: "Narcotics are prohibited by federal and state law. At least one person died at WOODSTOCK this month from bad ACID. Do not buy DRUGS at the festival. We are told that plain clothes detectives will be in the crowd. If you are smart you will AVOID OBVIOUS CONSUMPTION OF DRUGS." As a further precaution the poster added, "Police will remain outside the speedway unless our private guards are unable to keep order. IT'S UP TO YOU."
The overnight outdoor event featured a lineup of famous and not-so-famous singers and musicians, including some who had played at Woodstock as well: Country Joe and the Fish, the Byrds, the Youngbloods, Canned Heat, Pot Liquor, Chicago Transit Authority, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Santana, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, It's a Beautiful Day, White Fox, Snowrabbit, Deacon John and the Electric Soul Train, Whizbang, Axis, Sweetwater, Lee Michaels, Oliver, Jam Session, Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys and Spiral Staircase.