HALLOWELL — Downtown Hallowell was alive with music from the late ’60s on Sunday, harkening back to a once-in-a-lifetime experience 50 years ago that resident Maggie Warren “can’t put into words.”

“I bought my (Woodstock) tickets at a head shop in Bethesda, Maryland,” Warren said. “My boss’s wife packed our Ford Econoline van full of food and water and beer. We were partying on the way up.”

Local musicians and visitors descended on Granite City Park on Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock at Hallowell’s Woodstock and Arts Festival. The musicians covered the music of prominent performers at Woodstock, like Santana, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

Warren said her party arrived the day before the notorious festival began and immediately felt a sense of community.

“We were all sharing our stuff; our drugs, our food,” she said of the atmosphere. “We were all anti-Vietnam war people, all feeling awful about things going on in the world. We got to a place where there (were) 500,000 people just like us. It was remarkable.”

Warren said her favorite performer was Joan Baez, who performed while she was six-months pregnant. Warren said Baez’s performance included a protest song, aimed to denounce the jailing of her husband David Harris, who refused to fight in the Vietnam War.

“It just touched me,” she said, adding that the performance was done at night and the darkness made it more poignant.

Sunday’s crowd, clad in long, flowing floral skirts and tie-dyed shirts, was a bit smaller than Woodstock’s half-a-million, but hundreds of “old hippies,” according to emcee Pat Pepin, came to Hallowell for the festival to dance to the classics.

Cloudy weather broke just before the music started at 2 p.m., giving way to sunny and hot conditions at Granite City Park. Zoo Cain, a 67-year-old artist from Westbrook, was the first person to get up and dance, strumming an air guitar along to the first band, Canned Heat. As a 17-year-old, Cain said he took a bus from Brunswick to Boston before hitchhiking to the festival in Bethel, New York, and back again. He said Hallowell’s rendition was only a fraction of the weekend he had half-a-century ago.

“This is just a little thumb of it,” Cain said. “This is a good vibe.”

The revival of Woodstock is floated every 10 years, but a follow-up to the event has never been realized. This year, a 50th-anniversary edition of the festival was in the works but was canceled after some key funding sources pulled out.

Hallowell’s event, which has been held three times since 2015, is organized by the Hallowell Area Board of Trade. Ruth LaChance, a member of the organization’s Board of Directors, said the idea was hatched during a conversation at Boynton’s Market with Bob Colwell, a stalwart in the Hallowell music scene.

“We said ‘there’s nothing going on in August,’” LaChance said, adding that Hallowell’s community of artists made the city conducive to a Woodstock event.

The event was not held last year because of roadwork that snared traffic through the summer.

A few functional changes were made this year. Musicians used to set up on the city’s bandstand just south of Granite City Park. Now, a stage is set up at the north end of the park’s parking lot. A few of the bulkhead’s colored Adirondack chairs were set up in a semi-circle and a large, flat space was cleared for dancing.

Along with music, the event featured local artisans selling jewelry, paintings and other handmade goods.


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