Annual migration to Woodstock site plays out this week

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BETHEL, N.Y. -- High above the tents and campfires and drum circles, where several thousand music lovers were celebrating the 26th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival, a gray banner bearing the grinning-skull logo of the Grateful Dead glowed against the night sky, illuminated by a flashlight.

Its owner, Ronald De Graw, said he was letting the battery run down, allowing the symbol of his favorite band to fade into the darkness.

It was something of a tribute to Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead's spiritual center and lead guitarist, who died Wednesday. But now, Mr. De Graw said, "The mourning is over. It's time to party."

Despite opposition by some neighbors and local officials, an annual August migration to the hayfield that was the festival's original site appears to have become an institution.

In contrast to the hyper-organized, internationally televised 25th anniversary concert last year, held on a farm in Saugerties 50 miles away, this year's Bethel celebration was put together with bits and pieces of this and that.

The one confirmed act was the Rascals, who had agreed to play tomorrow, said Norman Karp, a neighbor of the site. Other regular performers -- Arlo Guthrie, Melanie, Richie Havens -- were definitely coming, he said, but no one knew exactly when.

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