‘There’ll never be another Woodstock’: P.E.I. couple remembers legendary festival 50 years on

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When David and Francesca Gregori each went to Woodstock in 1969 they couldn’t have known eight years later they would meet, fall in love and get married. 

In fact, when they went to the iconic music festival they were complete strangers. The two have been happily married for 41 years now and live in Sturgeon, P.E.I., in a log home that David built from scratch himself. 

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the epic music festival, which took place in Bethel, N.Y.

David remembers purchasing a ticket to attend the festival — unlike many others who attended. 

And he still has that ticket. He paid $6 for it at the time. Francesca even framed it many years later, while she herself never paid admission. 

‘I actually bought a ticket, unlike a lot of people,’ says David. (Sean Patrick Young/CBC)

“We had no tickets, no plans, no nothing. I wanted to see Janis Joplin. That’s why I was going,” said Francesca.

Francesca was 16 at the time and she and her friends decided to take off to the festival. She said her older sister insisted on coming along since she was in charge of “keeping track” of Francesca for the weekend and they drove there in their parents’ station wagon.

‘I went there for the music, but I ended up being there for the camaraderie.’ David shows off a headline from the time. (Sean Patrick Young/CBC)

When they arrived, Francesca’s group had to park eight miles away from the concert site. David said he also had to contend with the flood of cars carrying hundreds of thousands of people trying to make their way to the festival.

“It was much like a P.E.I. road, except there were three or four lanes of traffic going one way,” said David.

The couple’s record collection includes Woodstock performers Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. It’s been packed away in plastic, but they decided to open it back up for the weekend. (Sean Patrick Young/CBC)

David and his girlfriend at the time stayed on the edge of the crowd and only attended one day of the festival. He said they chatted with everyone around them and made new friends.

“I went there for the music, but I ended up being there for the camaraderie,” said David.

‘It wasn’t perfect, but it was’

Francesca and her friends stayed the whole weekend and found a spot where they could watch the acts fly in and out in a helicopter. But Francesca ended up missing Janis Joplin.

“They woke me up. I sat up apparently, lit a cigarette, and went right back asleep,” said Francesca.

The first band Francesca says she heard when she arrived at Woodstock was Country Joe and the Fish. She still has one of their albums, amongst some other festival performers like Jimi Hendrix. (Sean Patrick Young/CBC)

But she said that one moment doesn’t matter as much 50 years on. Francesca said despite the scarcity of water and food combined with bad weather, the thing she remembers most is the music.

“It wasn’t perfect, but it was at the same time. It’s a part of us. A small part now, mind you, but every now and then it comes back,” said Francesca.

David and Francesca met on P.E.I. about eight years after they both attended Woodstock. They’ve lived in the log home David built ever since. (Sean Patrick Young/CBC)

David said he doesn’t think the festival will ever be recreated.

“There’ll never be another Woodstock,” he said. “You could have the top 20, 30 stars today and I’m not sure you’d have the camaraderie, the peacefulness you had in ’69.”

David revisited the concert site 15 years ago. It now has a plaque commemorating the festival he simply walked into all those years ago, without anyone asking for the ticket he had bought.

“I never got my six bucks back though,” said David.

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