When my friends and I watched the movie “Woodstock” in 1970, we could only imagine such an event. There was nudity among the concert goers, a nude swimming hole, open air markets for drugs and many concert goers were stoned out of their minds on acid. We had all been to many concerts in Kansas, but nothing like Woodstock. I was lucky to have made the last Woodstock-type festival, which was called the Ozark Music Festival.
It was in July of 1974 when we started hearing about it on the radio:
“The Ozark Music Festival, featuring the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bob Seger, America and REO Speedwagon.”
That was quite a line-up. The event was to be at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. It was a three-day event hosted by radio celebrity Wolfman Jack.
“We’ve got to go to this,” I told Janet as we were driving to my job one day.
“That sounds good” she replied. “I’ll bet some of my friends will go. It sounds like an actual rock festival.”
“That’s what I’m hoping. It’s a three-day event.”
The festival started on Friday, July 19. I had called in sick for the day off of work. Naturally we packed my Galaxy with a cooler, our sleeping bags, and the same green pup tent we had slept in at Marion Lake.
It was a long drive to Sedalia, at least six hours. We were just a little west of Kansas City, when we got off the Kansas Turnpike for a bathroom break. We both went into a service station to use their bathrooms, which had the usual stench of urine. When we came out, we both grabbed some Cokes. We sat down on a wooden bench just outside the station’s glass door and walls. A woman who was about my mother’s age with dark hair, glasses and wearing a dress, walked out the service station door and asked us where we were headed.
“We’re going to a rock festival in Sedalia,” Janet said.
“I admire you kids today,” she said. “You can do so many things we were afraid to do when I was young.”
I’m not sure exactly what kind of things she was talking about, but in general, I realized we were the generation that learned to live free of all the restraints of the last generation. We probably didn’t think much of it at the time, but the older generation was bound by restrictions that were hard for us to imagine. It was natural a few of them would realize what they had missed.
As with Woodstock, this was an enormous event with people pouring in from across the country. The traffic was miserable. There was a huge line of cars waiting to get to the fairground’s gate. It took us an hour to get in. Once we got in it was worth the wait. The festival was like a free-for-all. There were people holding up signs, mostly cardboard or poster board with magic maker lettering, for just about any drug we wanted:
“Acid, Speed, Downers, Mescaline, Cocaine,” the different signs people held up said.
Almost every type of psychedelic drug and any type of pot we could want was for sale.
“There’s some opium,” said Janet. “We got to stop. I definitely want some of that.”
We stopped the car. The tall young guy with black shoulder length hair had a brown, fold-up card table full of little round foil wrapped balls. Janet walked up and opened one of them. She smelled it and examined it carefully.
“It’s $10,” the guy said.
“I’ll take it,” said Janet.
As we drove down the roadway along the fence we headed for the campgrounds, which were set up all around the edges of the fair grounds. There were extra green port- potties set up. There were tents and cars everywhere. A huge stage was set up at one end of the fairground. The amusement rides were open and running. There were food vendors operating just as if it were an actual state fair.
As we searched for a camping spot, we ran into Mari and Rhonda. We stopped the car as we passed in front of their tent.
“Why don’t you guys set up here with us?” Mari said.
We agreed. We parked the car and began to pitch our tent. We had some Pabst beer in the cooler. Once we got settled in we decided to walk to the stage. As we walked there was a sea of people. The overwhelming majority of them were under 30. It looked like a freak festival with many longhaired guys and lots of tie-dyed T-shirts. It was hot and many of the guys had no shirts on.
As we ventured down the path to the stage, holding beers in our hands, I noticed a woman in her thirties, with cropped dark hair and glasses. As she passed me I noticed she wore a long dark colored dress and had bare saggy boobs. I suddenly realized that there was actual nudity at this event, just like I saw in the Woodstock movie.
We also passed by some guys barbecuing naked. Janet joked:
“Get some clothes on Ethel,” using the line out of the Ray Stevens’ song “The Streak.”
When we got to the stage it was standing room only. The bands had begun to play. I remember seeing Bachman Turner Overdrive playing but I don’t remember which day it was. There was a lot going on. People were getting stoned. I noticed another brunette woman, about my age and my height, who had untied her pink halter-top and pulled it down over her jean shorts to bear her to