Shades of a Lost Festival

(Before we begin, some shameless self-promotion: every week a Popdose writer guests on the nationally syndicated radio show Overnight America with Jon Grayson. In the wee hours of this morning, that writer was me. Since you were probably sleeping, you can hear the interview here.)

A year ago, I wrote a post for the now-defunct about the July 1972 Concert 10 Festival, a daylong show held at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Because there’s so little on the Internet about the festival (my post comes up first on Google when you search “Concert 10 Festival”), I have received a handful of comments and messages from people who were there, or claim to have been there. Since we’ve written quite a bit about rock festivals at this blog, here’s a reboot.

By 1972, the concept of the massive, multi-day festival was dead. Similarly dead was the belief (which was never especially widespread, although it did affect the planning of some early festivals) that the Spirit of Peace and Love would overcome prosaic site problems involving traffic control and sanitation. In early 70s America, racetracks such as Pocono and the various speedways that hosted the Atlanta and Texas Pop Festivals (and Altamont, for that matter) were the likeliest facilities for accommodating the massive crowds that wanted to camp out at a concert.

But even when promoters legitimately contracted with tracks, locals often rebelled. In the days before the Concert 10 Festival, with roads already jammed and law enforcement stretched thin by flooding in the area, the Pennsylvania State Police suggested getting an injunction against it. The local DA said, essentially, “On what grounds?,” and the festival went forward. Nevertheless, many locals believed the festival could have, and should have, been stopped. Days afterward, a columnist in the Stroudsburg Pocono Record blasted county officials for failing to do so. Two years earlier, local authorities had killed a six-day festival scheduled for nearby Walpack, New Jersey, not long after a festival scheduled for a ski resort near Middlefield, Connecticut, was halted by injunction. The columnist refused to accept the county’s assertion that authorities didn’t learn about the festival in time to act, and he blamed racetrack owners for wanting a big payday to salve ongoing financial trouble. A couple of weeks after the festival, the local paper denounced as censorship a proposed county ordinance that would have granted officials the power to decide whether a festival was “good” for the area. (When one of them suggested an injunction against a Johnny Cash show scheduled for the racetrack in August, locals disagreed loudly.)

My original post describes the scene on concert day—the hellacious traffic, the open sale of drugs, the garbage left behind, and the horrified reaction of locals. That post has attracted some interesting tidbits from readers who claim to have been there. One says, “I have no idea who said drugs were for sale. It’s simply not true.” In that case, the local paper reported it. He also says, “I heard through the crowd that five babies were born.” This is almost certainly nonsense—Woodstock was twice as large and three days longer, and although there were rumors of births at that show, nobody has ever been able to prove anybody was born there. “When it rained, the Groundhogs were on stage. They played until their amps caught fire.” Perhaps. “Emerson Lake and Palmer began at about 3AM Saturday with ‘Fanfare for the Common Man.'” Doubtful: Given that ELP was in the midst of the massive world tour later documented on Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, it’s more likely they opened with another Aaron Copland number, “Hoedown.”

My research named the following acts on the bill: Three Dog Night (who closed the show), Rod Stewart, ELP, Humble Pie, Black Sabbath, the J. Geils Band, Badfinger, and Edgar Winter, although one commenter says neither Black Sabbath nor Badfinger played, and another says he remembers Mountain there. (Newspapers were notoriously bad about listing rock festival lineups in their reporting.) There were undoubtedly other, lesser bands on the bill; the Groundhogs and Mother Night are two we know of. A number of concertgoers remember less about the music than they do about the looting of an ice-cream truck, the traffic jam before and after, and the muddy conditions.

The last mentions of the Concert 10 Festival in the local paper are at the end of July, when the traffic chaos it brought was contrasted with the smooth operation of two auto racing events that brought massive crowds to the raceway three weeks later. Never mind that an auto race is not a rock festival and a rock festival is not an auto race. The Pennsylvania 500 and Schaefer 500 races on back-to-back days proved to the locals that they could run a big event, if the hippies would get out of the way.

And with that, the Concert 10 Festival faded into history.

55 thoughts on “Shades of a Lost Festival

  1. tony allen

    I happen to have, in fairly good condition, the program for the concert 10 festival. It was my first outdoor concert and Mitch Mitchell playing with Ramatam at the time was memorable. Badfinger and Black Sabbath did cancell. No Mountain.

    1. robert kunkel

      you are right about ELP starting with Hoedown Rod Stewart band was on one stage trying to start up thats when ELP bumped them out by blasting Hoedown on the other stage We were big EL fans and were dying to leave Glad ELP jumped ahead!!!

  2. Tom Swan

    I had just graduated high school and four of us headed to the concert. Yes the traffic was crazy. We literally parked our car in the 2nd lane of I-80 and carried and ice chest 4 miles to race track. As naive high school kids, we were totally intimidated by all the drugs sales and the crowd. When a biker guy, with what looked like a bear trap hanging from his belt, came up and asked us for some of our sandwich, we decided to leave and braved the traffic back out. Never heard any of the music.

  3. Joshua Wertheim

    I was there. All I can honestly remember is the mud. I had a 1968 Rambler. The car was stuck where we parked. My friend Harold and I raised the trunk lid to remove whatever we could to put under the tires so we might be able to push the car out of the gunk. I was pushing from the back with the lid still open and cut my finger really badly. We had to go all the way back to behind the stage where the first aid station was. What I remember is (a) meeting all sorts of performers while back there, none of whom I can name, and (2) I got the most attention of everybody because I was the only one back there who wasn’t overdosing on drugs. Did I have fun? Who knows? I was 18. Of course it was great. My only festival, too young for Woodstock, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  4. I was there three dog night played at six in the morning they had to drive up because of fog black sabbath was a no show line up was faces elp humble pie j.geils bad finger cactus egar winter bull angus mother night groundhogs claire hamill ramtam I still have the program

  5. shelley

    My friend Nancy ,whoi grew up with, and I were there at the consert. I was in 11 th grade. I stuck to her like glue cause I had no sence of direction. Nancy cut her foot on glass, we went bare footed! They lifted her out by helicopter and I stood in one place, in mud, bare foot, for hours waiting for her to come back. Someone came up in front of me and video taped me. I wish I knew who that was. Wish I could see pictures and videos of that time. It still was still a great experience. They show woodstock on tv..why can’t they show video on the poconos concert? I think it was better than woodstock!

    1. Patty

      I was there also and yes, trying to find photos or even video of this concert is harder than finding a unicorn! :) I was 17 and went with a bunch of people and got lost after I came out of the bathroom. Amazingly enough, I bumped into three other guy friends I knew and ended up hanging with them the entire time until later being able to locate my original group. I remember a lot of rain and mud and hell, I am NOT cut out for oudoor stuff like that! I DID have a good time and can still remember ELP and Rod Stewart and Faces in the wee hours of the morning. $14.00 for this concert…wow, I sure wish I could go back to those days now! It’s almost like this concert did not exist as there is not much about it to be found. What is really funny is that years later is that my ex-husband had actually been at that concert, too…and we were both so damn happy to see that we each knew someone ELSE that had actually been there!!! LOL!!

  6. Angela

    We travelled to the Pocono Raceway from Bergen County NJ….we knew there were to be several pop star headliners/bands there and the music was bound to be good. (In those days, the tickets were probably $30 for each of the 2 days…something crazy as that!) I believe we left from Jersey the day before (Friday) so to get there a little early but the traffic was already insane by early Friday evening. I remember people walking on top of the cars, on the roofs of cars,from car to car…..that’s how jammed up it was! And in those days there wasn’t much, if any, traffic management. No body around to give out a traffic violation! We got to the raceway and set up our tent which turned out to be a great idea because that one night it absolutely poured …I remember listening to Humble Pie & Emerson Lake & Palmer from inside the tent since it was teeming rain… We had a terrific time, not any problems to speak of, though I think it was because we (m best friend & I) were in good hands of our ‘platonic’ friends.. Smoked pot and maybe even ate some mushrooms but overall had a great time…..I am on this website tonight because I was watching the Eagles special and it brought back memories … PRetty tame compared to even Woodstock and things that go on today……

  7. I was there, but for some reason remember arriving the night before. We sat where we thought was the back, but it soon turned out to be the front. But I get ahead of myself. The night before, myself and three of my HS friends (I grew up 15-20 miles away) all ingested a bit of mescaline (actually snorted it) at our humble “campground.” For me, a practiced follower of the hallucinogenics, it was a blast. Listening to our portable stereo, watching my goofy friends, who had never experienced anything like this before. Two of them did a lot of dancing, while the other one could not pull his eyes from the star-laden sky.

    The day of the show, it started out well. One weird site I will forget was the local version of a motorcycle gang (Hell’s Angels, I have no idea) just ran over people sitting on the infield to get to the front. I think they had been used as “security” or some such crap. Worst thing? Idiots around us applauded them, as if they were returning war heroes or something. It made my almost puke.

    Anyway, we made it through the Groundhogs and then all came to the same conclusion:
    “This sucks.” We picked up our salvageable gear and headed for the car. We were home in no time, but the evening before was quite fun.

    I also remember one of my friends being really scared to cross the track to get to the infield. One, the cyclone fence had pretty much been trampled. Two, someone was riding back and forth on the track on a very powerful motorcycle, doing wheelies and scaring pedestrians. Lots of fun, I guess.

    Now, I also made it to Watkins Glen in ’73, a comparable setup, but much more interesting in terms of the crowd and the acts. I was living in Syracuse NY at the time (summer between junior and senior year in college). This time, it was window pane. But this time, it was The Band, The Dead and the Allman Brothers, not that ragtag lineup at Pocono. We stayed the whole time, worth it. I could not get enough of the Allmans then, still can’t.

    Finally, in the summer of ’69 a few friends and I actually purchased tickets to Woodstock, at the time we were led to believe it was an outdoor Jimi Hendrix concert. We never made it. We sold the tickets and headed to a cheap motel (Heart of the Wildwoods) on the Jersey Shore. It was the last summer I had with my ex-football pals (they were all headed to college, shades of American Graffiti). We turned on the TV in the motel, and there was Woodstock. Doh! We went to the beach instead.

  8. Alan mciver

    I was a local kid (15) and was a maintenance worker at the track that summer. I remember spending weeks picking up the garbage afterwards and can attest to finding plenty of evidence of drug use. One of my buddies found a zip-lock full of cash (several hundred $) – probably from an “absent minded” dealer! My best friend Buz bought tickets but thought it would be more fun to jump the fence with everyone else. Slit his hand open and wound up getting a free helicopter ride to the hospital, but i think he missed the show completely. The traffic and rain were terrible – I stayed home that day and everyone told me I didn’t miss much. And yes, the locals in general did not approve!

  9. Tom blend

    I have a pretty good memory of the Pocono concert. Four of us drove in my brothers little red car,which we had to leave somewhere about five miles away. That was Friday night. We arrived at concert around 1 pm, it was sunny and great. The fence that promoters put up,was down and people just streamed in. I remember at the back of the track lots of motorcycles and gang members. We had our own drugs. I took some orange sunshine about 2pm. It started raining around 4? We were in a make shift tent with some people we met. I left there soon after and headed to the front of the stage. I was able to get right up front because of the rain. The stage was about 10 ft. High with a big chain link fence surrounding. There were people dressed in karate gi’s underneath. The music stopped for the rain and soon a chant started some people may have thrown stuff. As the rain slowed a band came on with a female guitar player(Ramatam?) she was pretty good! I remember her on her knees arched back playing Jimi Hendricks style. The rain was on and off,I remember two twin girls huddled in a whitish,blanket or sheet.I watched them for what seemed like an eternity.
    I remember some of the other bands J Giles, Humble Pie,Faces,ELP, Three Dog Night. We left while Three Dog Night played sometime 6 or 7am.

  10. Tom Buczkowski

    I remember the concert and have been looking for information about it. I got in through a hole someone had cut in the wire fence, and ripped my leather jacket on the wire. Karma. I was just about to enter my junior year of high school. Definitely no Black Sabbath or Badfinger. I also saw Led Zeppelin at the Spectrum in Philly that summer.

    I can’t believe there were so many negative comments about traffic, rain, and garbage. It was an outdoor concert! That’s part of the experience. What did people expect? A lot of these concerts were generally poorly planned and thrown together to make some quick dollars. Promoters lied to the local authorities about impact, or bribed them, and then left a mess.

    So we’re all grown up now and see how foolish it was, but I would not have wanted to miss the experience.

    Oh, and there WERE drugs for sale – it was 1972. People denied there were drugs around back then, but to deny it now is, let’s just say misinformed.

  11. Take A. Dudley

    I thumbed a ride with a another kid from high school who I didn’t know that well. His friends like mine had driven down the nite before and we hoped we would meet those guys there. We left Dirty Dorchester Ma. at about 1pm Friday and at 10pm we were on the racetrack. The track is 2miles around and we went around the whole course and miraculously we bumped into (figuratively–they were wasted on Sunshine) my buddies.
    We ran into some strange dudes over the course of the nite and there was even some wasted biker dude in a coffin. I had ‘dropped’ some acid by then and was freaked out. There were drugs everywhere- mostly weed and hallucinogens. Next morning we were at the main gate with no tickets. The other guy I had thumbed with met his buddies, which was uncanny cause of the crowds, and they went off together. At about 11am the
    main gate opened to let a cop car in and one of my friends hopped on to the rear of the car, it was traveling at a slow pace and when they didn’t kick him off, me and my other friend hopped on.. By now, it was a free-for-all because they weren’t even trying to collect tickets anymore. The cop car drove to the side of the stage and we were ‘up front’—-it was really hot and we didn’t have any water etc. After the concert started, we spotted another group of about 15 dudes who were also from Dirty Dot. and we made our way over to where they were partying…. they had no shortage of refreshments and we were golden…..but then the rain started…. quickly the ground became a sea of mud……we left and hiked to a underpass where the other guys we met had 3 vans parked….. I remember that the only thing I had brought with me was a black plastic trash bag( Irish suitcase) with a change of clothes and after we were under the underpass I was able to change and party on…After the rain stopped we marched back to the concert but didn’t go that close to the stage,,,,,Humble Pie, Mod Rod and Boston band J.Geils rocked out and we had a ball but I remember I was exhausted from no sleep and long hikes. I will never forget that, because the ground was soaked and muddy, I had no choice but to sit on a full upright can of Bud,….imagine trying to plant yer ass on a can… God’s honest truth, I did and it helped a little bit…. we left before 3Dog came on and I got a ride all the way home in one of the vans and like the other comments hadn’t heard much about that concert…I would love to see a t-shirt, poster, ticket or pictures of Concert !0….Take A. Dudley 2013

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  13. Lee Ron Lee

    Too young to attend Woodstock, Pocono10 in 1972 was to be my first and ultimately last outdoor festival … total nightmare.. Left Long Beach Island with three friends at dusk Saturday morning. Approaching the site on a two lane rural road, traffic gridlocked about 5 miles out with most abandoning their cars and walking in. We did the same and fortunately pulled off the main road and parked along a street that ran parallel to the interstate (not sure which one) … this decision was a lifesaver. After a two hour walk we settled on our sleeping bags on the raceway infield and the partying began …beer, a little Jack and great deal of marijuana …. life was good for the moment.

    We didn’t bring food and there was none to be had at the festival. I remember standing 7 deep at a concession stand watching a pile of uncooked hot dogs sitting in cold water while the attendants tried to bring the water to a boil with the smallest of burners. This was going to take a while and growling bellies outnumbered hot dogs 10 to 1 …. I went hungry.

    The music stated in early afternoon with a couple of lame bands and a female folk singer … The sound system was good but the musicians were mere specs in the far distance. During the Ground Hogs set, it began to rain …. for several hours replete with lightning bolts and claps of thunder …. The infield quickly became a quagmire and the temperature dropped precipitously. Cold, soaking wet, covered in mud, exposed, stoned, drunk, hungry and beaten we conceded defeat, picked up our saturated sleeping bags and began the long march back to the car. About halfway back the rain stopped and brilliant sunshine lit up valley … The concert restarted with who I thought was Edgar Winter but I could be wrong about that. For a split second we considered going back.

    When we arrived at our car we found the road network impassable … Abandoned cars left in the middle of every road. Our only way out was through a 30 yard mudhole between our side street and the interstate. Other resourceful attendees who were bent on leaving were pushing cars through the mud to gain access to the interstate … We paid our dues helping others and when it was our turn we were free … A great sense of relief that we were outta there.

    Once free, food was the primary objective as we hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours. We came across a McDonald’s and I have to say that it was one of the most unforgettable meals I’ve had in my life… Two Big Macs, fries and a vanilla shake never tasted better.

    Wish I could say I had a great time with many fond memories of my one outdoor festival … But even with the passing of over 40 years the disaster that was Pocono 10 remains embedded in me. Too bad, it had potential … some of my favorite bands, Faces, Sabbath, ELP and Humble Pie played. I’ll know better next time.

  14. Matt C

    Tony Allen is correct about the bands. We drove up from Hackettstown NJ, which wasn’t that far away, but got caught in a massive traffic jam. We pulled the car off to the site of the road and made it to the Raceway in time for the first band. I was disappointed that Badfinger and Black Sabbath didn’t show up. But it was pretty surreal when ELP came on in the middle of the dark morning. The rain had stopped by then and I recall that it was cold and a little foggy, and certainly muddy. I also remember that Keith Emerson had on a shiny suit that reflected the floodlights. By the time Rod Stewart came on a little later, we were beat and tried to find our tent. I have an old photo of my troop on the morning after. Overall, the bands were good, but you had to get pretty close to the stage to really appreciate the show. We were able to get relatively close in the middle of the night. And, yeah, there was mud, just like at Woodstock and Watkins Glenn, but it was worth it for an 18 year old. For me, the atmosphere, the grounds and the music, was better than the Watkins Glenn concert, although it was great to see the Dead, the Band and the Allman Brothers together.

  15. Bob

    Yes, I was there and still have two tickets ($11.00 each) how they made it through that rain and mud I’ll never know! The fence was flattened and we crashed the gate and never used the tickets. Rain, mud, music, Boones Farm apple wine, mescaline and reefer were prevalent in our group and the 5 mile walk back to the car on the highway was tough in rain soaked clothes. Hey, 18 years old and I missed Woodstock, I was going to this outside festival no matter what!

  16. A Tribute to Concert 10 at Pocono International Raceway in 1972.

    PA and backline provided by Gold Star Equipment Rental Brothers Aluminum Bissett Nursery Thievery Corporation

    1960’s Joshua Light Show by Warren Barlowe and Better Half Deb

    Stage Managers:

    Joanne J-bird Phillips, Allan Spielman

    Acoustic Stage
    800-820 Tom Ryan
    850-910 John Simonelli
    1030-1050 Jo and Frank

    Main Stage
    820-850 Guy Tour’s Black Sabbath Tribute
    910-940 The Project
    1000-1030 Retro69
    1050-1120 Robert and friends
    1140-1210 Comfortable Rut
    1230-100 Vitamin D

    note: expect show to go to 2am!!!!! times are approximate

    Concert 10 was a rock concert at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania on July 8 and 9 of 1972. The event attracted an estimated 200,000 people who were met with cold inclement weather, replete with rain and mud. The general atmosphere of the concert was compared to the Woodstock Festival of 1969. Concert 10 represented a successful revival of the American summer rock festival after the repeated failure of U.S. festivals during the previous two years.[1]

    Here are the bands you can choose from

    Black Sabbath
    Mother Nigh .
    Claire Hamill
    The Groundhogs
    Ramatam (with Mitch Mitchell from Hendrix Experience!!!)
    Bull Angus
    Edgar Winter
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
    Faces with Rod Stewart
    Humble Pie
    The J. Geils Band
    Three Dog Night

  17. Johnny G

    Very interesting posts, I like it. Talk about coincidence, cleaning out the garage over the weekend and I found the “Souvenir Program” from the concert. Man that was a good time. I went with a bunch of people, myself and 3 other guys on bikes (my Honda CB 500, I think it was actually pretty new at the time) and a bunch of other guy who followed in a van. What a party, I will never forget it! The rain, mud, music, partying and yes, as I have seen posted, a very intimidating motorcycle gang. We were lucky to be on bikes since we were able to get around a lot of the traffic. We camped outside the raceway the night before (Friday) and I remember being awakened early in the morning by a crowd of people going through a hole that was cut in the fence almost right in front of me. I had a ticket, but, LOL, didn’t need it after all. It is too bad that there wasn’t any documentary film made on the concert cause it felt very much like Woodstock just not as long.

  18. Bob Ott

    I was there with 3 friends from southern Connecticut. There was no way to make it off the exit ramp so we parked the car under the overpass and walked to the show. Many others did the same, the highway was like a parking lot. My mission was hampered by the fact I was on crutches due to an ACL operation the week before. Once at the site it resembled a mud slide. The music was intermittent at best. At the conclusion the materials left behind were unbelievable, thousands of soaked sleeping bags and coolers not to mention hills of garbage. All I can say is it was not an enjoyable experience but an experience no the less. Watkins Glen Summer Jam on the other was a whole different story.

  19. Bruce

    I was there with my girlfriend and her uncle and a couple of friends. I had was 18 and had received my draft notice. My girlfriends uncle had been to Woodstock and he got us all together, because this was suppose to be like Woodstock. I wasn’t allowed to go to Woodstock, so I wasn’t going to miss this. We drove up in two cars, I had a 64 Chevelle and the uncle had a Pinto. The traffic was backed up for miles, but we finally made it to one of the parking lots in the surrounding fields. We made it inside and heard a few bands, when it started to rain in the middle of the night. The last thing I remember is one of the bands playing the star spangled banner, not your normal version. I also remember motor cycles breaking in and about ten of them riding around the speed way. By the early morning we had enough with the rain and the mud and headed out to find our cars. The fog was so thick you couldn’t see two feet in front of you. We searched the parking area for a couple of hours but couldn’t find my car and the five of us spent the rest of the night in the pinto. Found my car the when the fog cleared in the morning about 100 feet away. Before the beginning of the concert, it was a pretty wild time with all of the people. To this day I can’t find anyone that has heard of this concert???

  20. Dennis Scholl

    I was at the concert. I went up the morning of the 8th with a friend from Hellertown, a small borough next to Bethlehem about an hour or so from the racetrack. I drove my ’65 Ford Falcon and we had to park a couple of miles away; there was so much traffic and congestion. I don’t recall buying tickets. I sort of recall going over a cyclone fence that had been pushed down and that’s how we got in. I’m 63 now, so this was 43 years ago. I was a junior at Penn State and was home for the summer. My parents were on a long vacation to Mexico and I had the house to myself. I had a summer job but this was a weekend event so we went. Anyway, what a scene. People everywhere and not much room to sit in front of the stage. We did squeeze in though and were immediately sharing pot with some guys next to us. We came prepared with pot and hash and wine and just had a hell of a time. I looked at the list of bands someone posted on Wikipedia and I didn’t see Earth, Wind and Fire. I sware they were there because I could’t wait for them to get off the stage; that’s how much I disliked their music. Somebody should check up on that. I was high but I absolutely know they were there. It could have been their first gig and maybe they were subbing for one of the bands that canceled. It rained but we stayed there. I passed out sometime after midnight in the muck and when I woke up, what a surreal scene: on stage, with fog encircling everything, was Emerson, Lake and Palmer singing Lucky Man. I woke up but honestly I don’t remember a whole lot more because we went back to smoking pot. I do remember Rod Stewart and J. Geils. The trip home was unforgettable. We found my car after a long walk and I drove, despite my state of being. We were driving down Rt. 402 an I’d start to drift off. My buddy, who I thought was sleeping, would straighten the wheel every time I dozed off. I don’t know how the heck we made it back to Hellertown, but we did. I was only 16 when Woodstock happened. A guy I worked with on a roofing crew went and I could kick myself now for not going. But there was no way my parents would have allowed that. I am glad I went to the Pocono concert. It was truly a sea of people and something I’ll never forget, although I wish I remembered more of it.

  21. Larry LaFalce

    What a trip reading all the posts. I was the lead guitarist in BullAngus and performing at the Pocono Festival was incredible. The roads were blocked for about 10 miles and the only way the acts could get on site was to take a helicopter. Flying over the last mountain and seeing the vast humanity was overwhelming. There were 2 huge stages built. As one band was performing on the stage on the left, the roadies were setting up for the next band on the right, and visa versa. Backstage was one huge tailgate party with lots of barbeque. The wind was pretty strong that day, and if you were out front listening to one of the bands, the wind would blow the sound away and you wouldn’t hear anything for a second or two. Of course, the rains came down and there were people sliding in the mud. Just as BullAngus took the stage, the sun came out lifting everyone’s spirits, and we had a blast, and everything was magic. I absolutely love the memories.

  22. Annette

    I hitched with my boyfriend up from Maryland, and was in a horrific accident not too far from the concert site, so spent some hours in the hospital with 4 or 5 other folk who were in the van. No one killed–we were lucky–but we were all beat up pretty badly. Nonetheless, most of us went to the concert anyway with our bandages and neck braces. We looked liked Washington’s Army marching to Valley Forge. I don’t remember much else, probably was rather traumatized after having my leg stuck under a wrecked van that had rolled over. I remember only the rain, the mud, and 3 Dog Night at 6 am. Good to hear what I missed while I was there!

  23. I was there and I’ll never forget it. Five other guys came with me in my 65 Comet. Sitting on route 80 for 12 hours it took to get 4 miles to get there. So many people were sitting on the hood of my car I couldn’t see to drive but we were barely moving. One thing I’ll never forget is I actually hit a pedestrian that walked in front of my car because I couldn’t see. I kept going and to this day I have no idea if I hurt that person or what. The bands were great. My favorite was Edgar Winter who I saw two more times after that. One thing that was awful on the last day was everyone left their blankets there in the mud and it was just thousands of blankets sitting in the mud. I wonder who had to clean that up. Wow. But six of us spent the night in my car because it got so cold up there at night time. My cousin was there and I didn’t even know it until a year later. I had just graduated high school the year before. I still remember it as if it was yesterday. I was so happy to go because I was still too young to go to Woodstock and all my friends had been to Woodstock and I was so jealous, I couldn’t wait to go to a concert like that one day.

  24. I too was there, I was 15 yrs old going to be 16 in a month. We used it as a starting place to hitchhike across the country that summer, and put our thumbs out on route 80 the afternoon of the last performance, which I remember being three dog night, and it was daylight. I remember being impressed that Hendrix’s man Mitchell was playing. I also remember the height of the stage was only a few steps up from the ground and I could just walk up the few steps and I sat on the stage behind the amps watching Rod Stewart. and was Amazed that he did a McCartney song. Maybe I’m Amazed.
    I kow it rained pretty good as the field in the AM was a very muddy place with sleeping bags left by the crowd. I found a fine knife stuck in the mud and still have it in my possession, with the mud on it. But….. maybe that was from the Watkins glen festival that I went to a year later also most to the weekend. I remember J Geils being there, and Edgar Winter, and I think that’s when I finally got there after walking quite a way , as the traffic had stopped. but it really didn’t matter as we hitch hiked up from Silver Spring MD.

  25. Woodstock the movie was pretty fresh in everyone’s mind that summer, as was Easy Rider, so what could be better than hitching up to a festival that summer. it was like living out the two hip counter culture movies at the same time, (if you were so inclined).
    According to the info, it was one of the 1st east coast festivals, after the initial spat of them in 69.

  26. a complete stranger struck up a conversation with me this morning – turns out we both attended this concert

    from our railroad tie campfire my high school buddies and I watched distant lights flickering as ELP echoed through the fog must have been around 4AM

    I somehow found the energy to make my way to the stage through a sea of bodies at around 4AM

    most of the festival goers had left or passed out by this time the rest of us were like the living dead

    some guy fell asleep under a giant speaker while some band I can’t remember played at full volume

    a helicopter was landing behind the stage – I walked over to the hurricane fence to watch it land

    a furious rod stewart exited the chopper yelling at anyone who got in his way

    his rant continued on stage where he told what amounted to a makeshift refugee camp how fortunate we were to be in his presence

    I was up close to the stage when J Geils came on – they put on a great show

    the rest is a blur

  27. Doug

    I remember parking somewhere near the highway and walking about five miles with about 6 friends of mine when we got to the concert site everyone just knocked the fence down we never used or $11 tickets. I remember getting to the front of the stage with one friend we had lost the other five friends. Sometime after the first band or second band started playing it started to rain. I remember just walking back to the car another five miles and then sleeping in the car the rest of the night with the bands playing in the distance the next day we walked back to the concert site and found one of our friends who had all the food we cooked a rancid steak but I don’t remember how we ever got home back to Rockland County New York

  28. Mark

    I just turned 16 and went with My brother who drove and 2 other guys. We left Delco outside of Philly Friday afternoon and got up there around 8:00 or 9 pm Friday night stuck in a traffic jam for ours. We parked in a field and started walking meeting all types of humanity until we reached this small hill. When we went up to the top of the hill we looked out over the mess of people and jammed cars and as far as we could see in many directions were campfires. It looked like a viking encampment. we met up with a black motorcycle club that had a fire going and were drinking moonshine. I remember it tasted like whiskey. Powerful stuff. We had Pot, Hash, acid, alcohol and more so we were already buzzed. We went through the fence at about 2:00 in the am Sat even though we had tickets and found that we had our choice of seating. We sat about 100 yds from the stage. My brother had to carry me in a sleeping bag after I drank 2 qts of boonsfarm that I bought from someone. I remember dancing down the street with cars loaded up with people and they were scraping on the gound and I bounced off this Pagan who was walking along and he said you better watch it son. When I woke up about 10:00 Sat we were sandwiched in and there was a sea of people as far as we could see. The music started and we were having a blast. We really went to see the Groundhogs because we were into Tony McPhee who was a great guitar player. I had a great time it was a very cool experience for a 16 yr old. I think most are wrong about the number of people there as I had seen papers estimating the numbers at 450 to 500 thousand or more. It was the most people I’ve ever seen. As far as others comments about no drugs being there, what a joke. After the rain we were walking in when Cactus was playing (they were great) there was a guy who had banquet tables set-up with about ten trash bags filled to the top with pot and a guy standing next to him with a piece in a holster to protect him. The guy was making a killing selling weed. There were also people walking by state cops smoking weed right in front of them. There was nothing they could do because of the jam-up. What a spectacle that event was. Glad I was there.

  29. One of the main draws of this concert was that it was going to overcome the short comings of previous festivals. Plenty of food and bathrooms, lots of security and plenty of traffic flow since the race track normally handles this kind of thing. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. Food was gone by like 2 o’clock hence the ice cream truck raid. It was very hot early on so people were drinking whatever to hydrate. This led to long lines at the porta johns. Eventually guys and girls were relieving themselves right next to each other. Then the rains came and mud and then it got cold out. Had to stick it out as there was no way any one was getting out of there. I still don’t know how they got the traffic situation remedied. Still the music was great. Three Dog Night closed the show( we were waiting for Black Sabbath, a no show),and, they were great.

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  31. Linda Snodgrass

    I was a 19 year old usually obedient daughter when I snuck out in the middle of the night from my Arlington, Virginia house to meet a 19 year old male friend so we could attend this concert at the Pocono Raceway. My parents were horrified when I returned to find out where I had been. It seemed like we walked forever from the clogged highway to reach the music. Luckily I brought a gallon Coleman jug of lemonade and a quilt. My friend and I were separated a couple hours after we got near the stage and I never saw him again until sunrise the next morning. But I quickly made new friends who were generous enough to share the small amount of heat generated by a small round smudge pot throughout the night. I loved the music but remember being cold in spite of my wet, muddy quilt. When one leg would dry out from being warmed by the person next to me, I would switch positions to try and dry the other leg. Wet blue jeans don’t dry very quick. J. Geils Band kept my spirits up. I wish I had more vivid memories of some of the other bands but the night was a blur of people, loudspeaker announcements for the first aid locations and pleas for people to quit climbing on the towers supporting the speakers and lights. I had no idea how I would find the car or my friend to get home. I didn’t have a clue which direction the car might be. Typical of a young mind, I just lived for the moment and decided to worry about getting back to Virginia later. I have never attended an outdoor event this large since. I kept the aerial newspaper picture of the highway with the cloverleaf completely covered up in parked vehicles. A treasured memory for sure.

  32. Mary Uliana

    Long ago but I remember the rain and mud. My favorite old boots got sucked off in the mud and never recovered. The polyethylene sheet we brought that protected us and some folks around us from the worst of the rain and also was visible if you looked really close at the local paper’s aerial photo the next day. I was with 2 brothers and a sister. My dad, a builder in the area, gave us directions for every tiny back road in the area. We actually were fine until we were within a couple miles of the race track. My brothers carried the cooler of beer, we carried the plastic. Folks were so stoned they were trying to smoke, well, stones. The sound was awful. And most of all I had a blast Hey I was young and life was good. What can I say. We just talked about this the other day!

  33. Joe Waldygo

    Fantastic posts. How lucky we all were to be there.

    At 16, a friend and I had hitchhiked to Wildwood, NJ for the 4th of July. Had a great time there staying with some college girls we met who worked on the boardwalk. We ran into some mid-20 guys from my hometown, and heard about the concert. We used what little cash we had to buy tickets. Little did we know that 100k would be able to sneak in as the fences were torn down.

    Arrived 2 days early and partied in a huge campground. Music, happy people, sharing, and partying was fantastic. It seemed you couldn’t want 20 feet without someone handing you a joint.

    My friend and I stayed through the entire concert though most of our friends left during/after the rain. It got pretty cold.

    ELP coming on amidst the fog was surreal. RIP Keith Emerson.

    During Rod Stewart’s performance, my friend and I climbed the scaffolding holding up the stage and managed to be on stage next to the piano player during Rod and the Faces’ performance. He actually came over to us a few times, and gave us a bottle of wine during a song. Wow.

    So, if anyone is out there with any photos or video of the Rod Stewart performance, I would love to hear from you. Email:


    1. Roger Ericksen

      Hi Joe, My clearest memories of that concert were that moment you mention when ELP’s synth started up and penetrated the fog and campfire smoke. I was finishing up cob-jobbing a big tent complex together with friends, from the leavings of those that fled the downpours. I headed to the stage and also ended up in the scaffolding in time for Rod. Amazing night. Most of my friends had left, including my girlfriend but I found new ones. Wish I had stayed in touch with them. I also wish I could send you the photos I know I would have it were happening now. Then, the last thing I thought about was carrying a camera, much less using it. Now I can’t not carry one. Sometimes wonder if the old ways were wiser.

  34. Phil

    Phil Sellers, yep was there! First outdoor concert with friends from Audabon Pa. I remember the Ice cream truck cause I was in it. People were very hungry and I had to do something. Not a very well planed concert. Lots of rain and mud but at that age it was a lot of fun I will never forget.

  35. Bob

    Wow, Yup was there too. Amazing there is so little info for a pretty damn big deal.
    15 years old from Woodcliff Lake, NJ. Road up with two friends in his sisters boyfriends car … no tickets(?). It was a red Impala SS convertible. We ditched them … “meet ya back at the car around 11-12 when it’s over” LOL. No memory of how we got back.
    Pete and I lost Jimmy, he did some Ludes. Last I remember of Jimmy was he tripped on someone laying in a sleeping bag and falling hard on a row of people sleeping, when we stopped laughing we couldn’t find him till we got back to NJ. I remember the Ice Cream robbery, got one. The Rain – Wound up sleeping in a under a blue tarp and sleeping bag of some fine young lady. Can’t remember how but do remember walking up to ELP.
    Wow, do you believe it and we survive to tell.

  36. I went with my boyfriend, and all I remember was all the rain, mud and lots of good music once the bands we had come to see played…Watkins Glen was much more fun…and I remember a lot more about that concert :-)

  37. P

    Just kids….drove over the night before from NJ with a group; 16 years old, riding shotgun on a convertible when the roads were jammed- young guy jumped on the car and kissed me, said he always wanted to do that; bikers driving on the shoulders; gates down, no tickets needed; wandering through the crowds trying not to step on people (like a crowded beach), yet finding your friends; standing on the speaker towers- announcement that people had to get off the tower or the show couldn’t continue; ELP, Edgar Winter- people shouting “where’s Johnny?”; 3 Dog Night was on so late, but no one wanted to see them anyway.
    don’t remember the rain much, but remember some had bad acid trips because of it; brought a box of cookies to eat; went home with some other kids I knew from another NJ town;
    you have to be young for that sort of thing!

  38. Jim Grabill

    My friend your on point!!!! I really was there..remember Eager Winter was play in on keyboard&..J.Winter (surprise) has 2 16oz Budweiser,set them on top of K.B.& started jam in..WHAT!!! & R.I.P.2 J.GILES& FAMILEY!!! Also that cut the power off on the band even with 3 stages that had 2 power back Up!!P Peter W. Incited the crowd.T..

  39. heimlick

    ELP was on the “Someone Give Ma A Ladder” tour
    at the time of concert 10. The tour that you refer to
    was over a year later.

  40. Melody

    I will never forget that event. It was exhilarating and scary at the same time. I got separated from our group (imagine that) and terrified i would gave to hitch hike home to Dundalk, Maryland. Luckily I found the car. The music was phenomenal and I was thrilled because Rod Stewart came on as the sun was rising and did his new song at the time…Angel. That my friend made the insanity worthwhile.

  41. Jeff

    I was there, the proof is I don’t remember much of it, HA! I had this old beat up Chevy van and went with a group of friends. We were from Conn. I don’t recall any real problems with traffic. I do remember the rain but we hung out in the van and were fine. Except I tried to move the van once and was literally stuck on a flat field with wet grass. I just saw a write up saying there was tons of mud but I really didn’t notice all that much mud. They did stop while it rained then it went back on and they played through the night. We got high and drank some beer and or wine, that was all the drugs we could get. A few bands cancelled but all in all it was a great time, wish I could remember more of it, LOL.

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  44. Ellen Cellura

    My husband and we’re there. I was 8 months pregnant. Because of traffic we could not proceed. We walked the last mile to the concert venue. Several people jumped out of their cars to photograph me and my husband. If there’s a photograph out there of May, I would love to see it

  45. bill rose

    Rode up from Linwood, Pennsylvania with my brother Bobby, Johnny Martini and Glen Carney. When the rains hit, Glen and I tried unsuccessfully to stay warm & dry under a sheet of plastic. Humble Pie was a favorite for me and was surprised by Cactus, who I had never heard of previously. When arriving we walked over a downed cyclone fence to enter the Raceway. I’m not able to remember most of the Festival, but considered it a great experience at the time. Weed was everywhere and I do remember hearing of many bad-trips & overdoses. I was 14 at the time and 64 years old now. It was back in the days of freedom, before the United States became socialist…

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