Rockfest 70 News Archive. Background Picture of Powder Ridge Rock Festival, Middlefield, CT 1970



Web Chronos

New York Times: August 2, 1970



Special to The New York Times

MIDDLEFIELD, Conn., Aug. 2—The winding roads leading away from the Powder Ridge ski area were filled today with rock music fans heading home, tired and dirty after several days of frolic and heavy drug use. Many of the youths were barefoot and shirtless and shuffled along in the sweltering heat with tents, packs and bed rolls on their backs.

As the youths moved through the main gate of the 300-acre resort, Richie Goldstein, 19 years old of Brooklyn, sprayed many with deodorant.

"Stop air pollution," he cried. “Deodorize, -deodorize. Everybody says we're a bunch of dirty commie freaks. Well, we won't smell anymore.

Once past the state police barricades a mile or two from the resort, most of the youths Stuck out their thumbs or held up cardboard sign with destinations like New York, Colorado and Boston penciled on them.

Of those who came in their own cars, more than 1,000 had to pay $20 to $50 to garages for towing that had been authorized by the police. No parking was permitted anywhere in Middlefield.

Thirty thousand youths had flocked to Powder Ridge in hopes that somehow their favorite musicians would prevail over a court order that prohibited a scheduled rock festival.

At first they entertained themselves; but eventually boredom, frustration and resentment took over and many turned to drugs in great quantities. LSD, mescaline, marijuana, cocaine and even some being peddled at the resort.

More than 400 youths suffered bad reactions to drugs Friday night and yesterday morning, bringing the total to nearly 1000, according to Dr. William Abruzzi, who was acting as medical director of the festival.

Dr. Abruzzi said today that a crisis had been averted by the music of local bands— which was permitted late last night and this morning in a compromise with court officials —and by the responsiveness of doctors, nurses and ambulance crews who volunteered their services.

"The whole spirit of the place changed when the kids heard there-would-be music," he said “Drug use went down precipitously."

Dr. Abruzzi, 44, is a college physician at the State University at New Paltz, N. Y., and

teaches a noncredit course in drug education. He had served as medical director at Woodstock and four other rock festivals and the promoters of the event here went to him when they were liming up a staff. Dr. Abruzzi said he had drifted into youth activity after a long involvement in the civil rights movement.

Drug salesmen shouting the merits of their products and sometimes samples gave the main road in Powder Ridge the air of a carnival midway at times.

The police had said they would not enter the resort to make arrests, but undercover agents mixed with the crowd and 15 drug salesmen were arrested as they left Powder Ridge today. One of them was carrying $13,000 in cash, the, police said.

The youths left behind tons of trash at the resort and on the streets of Middlefield. But several of them volunteered to stay behind to clean up, starting in town.

Louis Zemel, one of the owners of Powder Ridge who has a date in court tomorrow to face charges that he violated the court order on the festival, said that for him the last several days had been "beautiful, awesome, frightening, hopeful and discouraging."


Rockfest '70 Robb Strycharz, 1998-2006
CHRONOS hourglass logo 1993 CHRONOS Historical Services.