This week, the music world is observing the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

But what would have been the 49th anniversary of the Windy Hollow Festival passed without notice on Aug. 7 and 8.

On May 30, 1970, the Windy Hollow Recreation Area in western Daviess County had a rock festival with 20 bands playing from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

No problems were reported.

But when (now City Commissioner) Larry Maglinger announced plans on July 8 for another rock festival at Windy Hollow on Aug. 7 and 8, county officials suddenly saw visions of long-haired, drugged-out kids romping naked in the fields.

And they acted quickly to nip it, as Barney Fife used to say, nip it in the bud.

They feared that a rock festival would attract 10,000 or more kids from across the country.

Of course, to be fair to members of Daviess Fiscal Court back then, that was less than a year after Woodstock drew an estimated 400,000-plus people to a muddy field in New York.

And barely six months after a riot at California's Altamont Raceway Park -- during a festival attended by an estimated 300,000 -- put a damper on the good vibrations of the '60s rock scene.

Maglinger, then a young rock musician and promoter, sought to assure folks that he wasn't planning anything like that.

The headliners were the British blues band Savoy Brown ("Walkin' and Talkin'," "Train to Nowhere") and Minnesota rockers Crow ("Evil Woman").

He didn't have the big names like Woodstock.

Most of the 16 bands were from the Louisville, Indianapolis and Evansville areas.

Maglinger said he hoped to draw 6,000 to 8,000 people to the hills of western Daviess County.

Unfortunately though, the announcement came a few days after the bad publicity stemming from the second annual Atlanta International Pop Festival, which had inadequate facilities to handle the 200,000 or so who showed up.

And those images were still flashing in local minds.

"We don't expect more than 10,000 under any circumstances," Maglinger said at the time.

But as the festival drew nearer, folks began to get nervous.

On June 8, a month before it was announced, then-County Attorney Joseph Banken had green-lighted the festival, wishing the promoters good luck.

But on July 28, Fiscal Court, in a special meeting, approved a resolution opposing it.

The resolution said county commissioners had discovered "wide use" of narcotics, "obscene actions and indecent exposure in the open-air by members of both sexes" at rock festivals.

They also warned about "excessive littering and serious medical problems."

"Clean young people with innocent intentions," the resolution said, "are usually shocked when they discover such happenings."

The county didn't have enough police to handle such crowds, the court said.

Nor did it have the garbage collection necessary for all the litter.

"There is no need to ask for trouble," the resolution said. "There is no need for outside agitators."

County Judge Pat Tanner warned that "it could be 10,000 or even 30,000" at the festival.

Of course, that was less than the Owensboro Regatta was drawing downtown each year.

But those weren't "outside agitators."

Two days later, Fiscal Court members ordered Banken to file suit, seeking an injunction against the festival.

Maglinger said he had only sold 100 tickets.

But officials saw hordes of hairy hippies on their way.

The Owensboro-Daviess County Chamber of Commerce, saying that "similar rock festivals in other cities have resulted in the loss of lives and/or property," passed a resolution backing Fiscal Court.

After all that, Maglinger canceled the festival, saying he had lost thousands of dollars.

The Messenger-Inquirer praised the decision to cancel the event, saying, "The history of rock festivals is that they attract radicals who are more interested in disrupting than in being entertained."

Today, with rock festivals holding somewhat hallowed spots in the memories of aging baby boomers, all the fuss seems a little quaint.

But fear and hysteria always trump reason.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.