What You Didn't Know About The Person Who Hosted Woodstock

Of the many tales told about 1969's Woodstock Music and Art Fair, an event that has come to symbolize the '60s and its many hopes, dreams, and tropes, the one about the host, Max Yasgur, remains particularly prevalent.

Yasgur, then nearly 50 years old, was the farmer who rented out his farm to concert organizers after the original venue, Howard Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill, N.Y., fell through, per Time magazine. Legend often has it that Yasgur was a peaceful farmer who was sympathetic to the peace and love cause. Yasgur's dairy farm, however, was massive enough that he was able to let out just a portion of it — a staggering 600 acres. He also didn't do this entirely out of the kindness of his heart; he was reportedly paid around $75,000 for the rental, although the exact amount remains unknown.

Furthermore, at first glance, Yasgur was about as far from a hippie as one could get. He was politically conservative and had supported the Vietnam War. On the other hand, he championed  the concept of free expression, even if people expressed beliefs and opinions different from his own. He once told the New York Times, "If the generation gap is to be closed, we older people have to do more than we have done." His Bethel, New York neighbors disagreed with him and were unhappy with his decision to host the festival. Some threatened him physically, others called for boycotts of his dairy products, but Yasgur held firm.

Yasgur blessed Woodstock's attendees

Despite his conservative views, Yasgur did display some behavior that could be construed as almost hippie-like. Once the festival was underway, several of his neighbors attempted to capitalize on the number of thirsty attendees and sell drinking water at high prices. Outraged "that people would turn something as fundamental as water into a money-making enterprise," Yasgur put a large sign on the side of his barn informing everyone he had free water. Per Best Classic Bands, he also gave away cheese, milk, and butter.

On the second day of the festival, he got on stage and addressed the 500,000 people in attendance with a big smile, telling them they'd proven "young people can get together for three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music and I God bless ya for it!"

Unfortunately, Yasgur's neighbors remained upset that the event had taken place at all and sued the farmer in January of 1970 for $35,000 in damages sustained during Woodstock. He sold his farm in 1970 and moved to Florida, where he died  of heart disease in 1973 at the age of 53. Rolling Stone honored him with a full-page obituary, a rare occurrence for a non-musician.