Woodstock Fair Honors Historic 1969 Music Festival

The Connecticut Band of the Year competition was in part a celebration of Woodstock, and also a celebration of Connecticut's local musicians.

From Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin, the first day of the Woodstock Fair featured a 1960s tribute band competition in honor of the 50th anniversary of the historic 1969 music festival, Woodstock.

Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont created the Connecticut Band of the Year competition as a way to draw more crowds to the fair and celebrate Connecticut’s musicians. He’s also a big music fan himself, and once played keyboard in a band.

“All right Woodstock. 50 years ago. Three days of peace, love, and music,” he told the crowd, made up of people who were too young to remember Woodstock and a few who went to the festival.

At just 15, Lamont said he wasn’t old enough to attend the original Woodstock, but wanted to.

“All the guys and their older brother or sister got to sneak over there, but my parents said heck no,” said the Democrat.

He was not about to miss the music in Woodstock on Friday.

“I’m gonna have a kick today. I’ll tell you that. I’m looking forward to it,” Lamont said before the show.

Leading up to the big day, 60 bands competed for a place on the main stage. The Weird Sounds out of New Haven were among the five bands chosen to play for a share of the $17,000 prize.

“Every 13-year-old boy loves Jimi Hendrix at some point,” said Zach Fontanez, one half of the duo.

Like many in the crowd, Fontanez was born well after Woodstock, but he was excited about the idea of bringing Connecticut musicians together to commemorate the anniversary.

“A lot of the stuff from Woodstock is you know, a big part of my musical journey,” he said.

A half-dozen protesters interrupted the governor’s opening remarks, holding up signs and shouting, “Fossil fuels are dead!” They were quickly escorted away from the concert.

“Well, in Woodstock they had protests too,” Lamont responded.

He also pointed out there were a few differences between Friday’s concert and the original.

“In Woodstock, now the grass is on the ground, where it belongs,” he joked, referring to the prevalence of marijuana and other drugs at the 1969 festival.

This time, there was a philanthropic aspect with the sales of tie-dye t-shirts going to a local social service organization.

“It could pay for anything from heating oil to a maybe a week of camp for a kid,” said Anne Miller, Executive Director of the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group.

The concert seemed to hit all the right notes with the crowd. Organizers said they’d like to make it an annual tradition and hope it will draw an even bigger crowd to the quiet corner of Connecticut.

Click here for the Woodstock Fair schedule.

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