WOODSTOCK, CT — The Woodstock Music and Art Festival was held 50 years ago at a 601-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, but Gov. Ned Lamont wants to revive the spirit of the festival this year in Woodstock, Connecticut.
The governor and his staff have been planning a music festival in conjunction with the 159th Woodstock Fair for months now.
Lamont brought up the idea on the campaign trail in October and ran it past Woodstock First Selectman Michael Alberts, who put him in touch with Marc Allard, the entertainment director for the Woodstock Fair.
“Look the Woodstock music fair back in 1969 was a big deal,” Lamont said after a tour of Woodstock fairgrounds Friday. “If you were too young to go, you missed it.”
Lamont, who was 14 at the time, said he was unable to convince his parents to let him attend the festival, which is remembered as a seminal moment in rock music history.
“I negotiated like heck to no avail,” Lamont said.
He said he really wanted to see Janis Joplin perform and while he missed that opportunity in 1969 he’s hoping for a second chance of sorts.
“Some of the best tribute bands you can find are going to compete right here,” Lamont said.
Lamont told Rob Blanchard, who has been working with the governor since the campaign, to make the music festival a reality and gave him $20,000 to $30,000 of his own money to get it off the ground. There’s no state money involved. Blanchard said most of the money is prize money for the bands.
Lamont is also hoping Sen. George Logan, who has a Jimi Hendrix tribute band, will also perform. Blanchard said he has called Logan to see if he’s available.
The festival will be a battle of the bands.
Five Connecticut-based bands will be selected to compete for $17,000 in prize money. The rest of the money will be used to advertise the competition and help promote the festival.
For five hours on Aug. 30, the first day of the fair, a panel that will include Lamont will judge the acts and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three bands.
The original Woodstock featured performers like Santana, Joe Cocker, Hot Tuna, Starship, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Arlo Guthrie, and many more.
Bands have until July 31 to send a video of them playing one song that was played at the original Woodstock Festival in New York and two other songs of their choice. And at least one member of the band must be a Connecticut resident.
Each of the five bands chosen will get to perform for a half hour in an outdoor venue that holds thousands of people.
Lamont declined to estimate what turnout would be since the organizers for the original Woodstock got it wrong.
“The more the merrier. I’m looking right out there and we’ve got room for thousands of people. You can re-create some pretty good feelings right in Woodstock Connecticut,” Lamont said.
The organizers of the agricultural fair said attendance over four days usually reaches 175,000, but Friday is one of the slower days.
The Battle of the Bands will take place 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30. Submissions can be emailed to