Considering the number of people that attended the festival (more than 500,000), it’s surprising there were only three fatal accidents at Woodstock. Two people overdosed, and one, only 17 years old, died after a tractor ran over him while he was sleeping in a sleeping bag.
Another big issue was the shortage of toilets. Since no one expected such a huge turnout, festival staff only set up 600 toilets, and it wasn’t nearly enough. Basically, there was one toilet for every 650 people.
Martin Scorsese Edited an Oscar-Winning Documentary About the Festival
Artie Kornfeld, the festival organizer and mastermind behind Woodstock, thought it would be a good idea to film the festival and do a documentary on the whole event. Kornfeld had made an agreement with Warner Bros Studios to come and film the whole festival. At the time, Martin Scorsese had just graduated from NYU film school and he was recruited as one of the editors for the film.
Over the course of three days, they shot 120 miles of footage, which Scorsese and a team of others managed to cut down into a three-hour film. The documentary won an Academy Award and made huge profits, which Scorsese and the team of filmmakers barely saw.
A Stage and a Crowd That Could Be Watched From Every Angle
One of the most amazing things about musicians is that they get to connect with thousands of people through their music. They get to get on a stage and look at a crowd of thousands of faces staring back at them. At Woodstock, performers weren’t only greeted with this incredible feeling, but they looked back at a unique crowd of people covered in mud, dancing, playing music, and running around; they basically got to play for a human wonderland.
The Incredible String Band, a folk quartet from Scotland, said, "It was incredibly high and three out of the four of us had vertigo. Little flimsy dresses on the girls, acoustic guitars out of tune, the drums damp from the tent, it was like playing off the Forth Bridge to this sea of people cooking beans in the mud." They said their performance at Woodstock was something they would never forget.
Rain, Traffic, and Electrocution Weren’t an Issue for Artists or Attendees
Performers and people at Woodstock felt they were part of something so unique that it was going to take a lot to ruin the experience. Intense rain, heavy traffic, or even the risk of electrocution didn’t scare these people. In fact, The Grateful Dead, a band from California, played on stage during heavy rain and flooding, standing in water up to their ankles. Considering they were surrounded by amplifiers, instruments, microphones, and things that required a big amount of electricity, this was extremely dangerous.
The band even said they felt electricity shocks when they touched their guitars and held the mics. But, they did it anyway, along with many other bands, including Alvin Lee (from Ten Years After), who said, “Oh come on. If I get electrocuted at Woodstock, we’ll sell a lot of records.”
There Were Many Children at the Festival, But Probably No Babies Were Born There
It is said that four babies were born at the festival, but it remains unclear. One singer said on stage, “Some cat’s old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out!”. Also, a medic later reported that a mother-to-be was flown to a hospital and another had her baby in the car, stuck in traffic!
Eliot Tiber, who appears in Taking Woodstock, said a woman had a baby at his family’s hotel next to the festival.