Local Paper At Center of Woodstock 40th Anniversary

By: Joe Strupp The Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., the closest daily paper to Bethel, where the famed Woodstock music and art fair occurred 40 years, ago began its anniversary coverage back in May.

That's when it launched a series of Sunday interviews with notable participants at the three-day historic event, ranging from singer John Sebastian to Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, the famed "couple in the blanket," whose image graced the cover of the Woodstock album and has become the iconic image of the event.

Since then, the paper has built up a collection of content, from videos to photos to dozens of stories on the original concert, the anniversary set for Saturday, and the impact it has all had on local residents.

"Interest has intensified significantly," said Executive Editor Derek Osenenko, who said at least 75 media outlets are in town for the anniversary, which will occur Saturday through Monday. "It is difficult to get your arms around the legacy - it symbolizes an intimate relationship with an important part of people's pasts."

He adds that many of the original organizers and participants still live in the area.

The paper began this week's coverage with a 16-page special section on Thursday and has numerous pages devoted to coverage through Monday. Its Web site, meanwhile, has stories on everything from co-producer Michael Lang - who still lives in the area -- to Sirius XM Satellite radio launching a Woodstock channel.

Other web items include original photos from the paper's 1969 coverage, a message board for those who attended to share thoughts, and an AP Woodstock quiz. There is also a look at why the fair was named for Woodstock, even though it was held in Bethel, some 60 miles away.

"A big part of our coverage is to stay on top of what is happening now," Osenenko said. "This ranks in the top five of Web site packages we have done."

Another unusual item on the Web is a blog-like report on what occurred at the 1969 event, using old Times Herald-Record stories to simulate a reporter's updates that would have occurred had blogging been done at the time.

One posting:

"Thursday, Aug. 14, 1969

"I decided to drive up to Bethel to check out the preparations before tomorrow's Aquarian Exposition ...

"And I can't believe it, but already, there are plenty of people.

"Hundreds of young people were walking Route 17B, while more cars and trucks were parked on the side of the road. Seems they didn't get the memo that the "Woodstock" festival starts tomorrow.

"Looks like I'm hanging out here for now."

"That was done to emulate how it evolved back them," Osenenko explains about the blog. The paper is also re-running three editorials on Saturday that it published during and after the original concert.

About eight reporters and photographers from the Times Herald-Record's 75-person staff will be covering related events this weekend.


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