At Thanksgiving 1969, the eyes of the music world turned to Palm Beach County.
Forty-three years ago next week, thousands of youths from up and down the East Coast were gathering at the Palm Beach International Raceway just west of Jupiter for a three-day festival of rock’n'roll and free love.
Over the strong objections of then-Sheriff William Heidtman and churches that feared that the Woodstock-like festival would turn into an “uncontrollable orgy,” helicopters shuttled the era’s greatest acts to the nearly flooded racetrack, including the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Johnny Winter, Grand Funk Railroad, King Crimson, The Byrds, Sly and The Family Stone, Steppenwolf, Vanilla Fudge, Bethlehem Asylum, and more.
Palm Beach photographer Ken Davidoff, who as a teen became the festival’s defacto official photographer, is working on a documentary about the event and the political hoopla it created.
Check out his trailer:
A historical marker that commemorates the festival will be unveiled at the track starting at 2 p.m. Nov. 24. Mark Stein, an original member of Vanilla Fudge, a band that played at the festival, and WKGR-The Gater’s Andy Preston, are scheduled to be on hand.