1970: ‘People Festival’ Rocks On

powder ridgeMiddlefield, Conn. (UPI)–Thousands of young people ignored oppressive heat, health dangers and a court injunction Saturday to stage their own “people’s festival” in this rural community in the Connecticut River Valley.

An estimated 30,000 young people, lured to the 300-acre Powder Ridge ski area by a now-banned rock festival, provided their own entertainment with a heavy accent on drugs–sold and used openly.

Dr. William Abruzzi said there were some 4,000 to 5,000 medical cases–mostly of a minor nature–including about 1,000 who were on “bad drug trips.”

But not all the entertainment came from drugs.

Many of the youths sprawled on the hillside, sunning themselves in the 90-degree temperatures and listening to radios and stereos. Others–many semi-nude–frolicked among the tents and sleeping bags.

Impromptu musical groups–using bongos, kazoos and invented instruments of various sorts–took the place of the 27 rock groups and individuals who were scheduled to appear before a court injunction ended the formal ceremonies.

John Zell, of Marlon, Mass., a bearded carpenter camped here with his wife and four children, expressed a common opinion: “Who needs music. The people make it, not the music.”

“You know, we have just started people’s festivals,” he added.

One youth, wiping himself with an American flag after bathing, said “this is where it’s at–the people, not the music.”

Most of the youths no longer were bathing in “powder puddle”–the once-clean mini-lake at the base of the ski slopes which is now polluted despite 200 gallons of chlorine dumped into it.

Several hundred portable toilets were overflowing, posing a health hazard.

Jacob Belford of Middletown, the attorney for Louis and Herman Zemel, owners of the ski resort, was stricken with a “mild heart attack” at the site Saturday.  He was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he is listed in good condition. The owners appear in court Monday on contempt of court charges because the crowd refused to leave the scene.

From the Kingsport Times-News (Kingsport, Tennessee), Sunday, August 2, 1970.



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