By Douglas W. Motley
The tiny mountain hamlet of Green Valley Lake celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair – commonly referred to simply as “Woodstock” – on Saturday, Aug. 20. The original Woodstock lured some 400,000 free spirits to Max Yasgur’s farm in the tiny hamlet of Bethel in upstate New York, 40 miles southwest of the actual town of Woodstock in the summer of 1969.
While the original Woodstock took place over a three-day period – Aug. 15 to Aug. 18 – Green Valley Lake’s one-day affair attracted several hundred free spirits, most of whom reside in Green Valley Lake, and others came from nearby San Bernardino Mountains communities and from as far away as Riverside and Orange County to celebrate with the locals.
According to one of the principal organizers, John Giarelli, who, along with Sandi Huckaby, organized the first Green Valley Lake Woodstock Festival 27 years ago, “It was my idea originally, but me and Sandi both worked on it. Sandy is a real go-getter, and she really made it happen.”
Noting that Green Valley Lake, much like Woodstock and Bethel, N.Y., is a community filled with artists and musicians, Giarelli said, “I’ve been promoting our festival on the Facebook page Hippies of the San Bernardino Mountains. It was my idea to bring more people to our community of artists and musicians.”
For a small community, Green Valley Lake has an amazing wealth of talented musicians, which include the Irish-style band Wake the Bard, which specializes in Celtic tunes; Grits & Grady, known for their old-time, bluegrass American tunes; Senara, which plays ballads, with a touch of the British Isles; the Green Valley Lake Community Garden Kazoo Band; and the Green Valley All Stars Band, all of which share many of the same bandmates.
Musicians entertaining at the outdoor stage last weekend included Adam Hurlbut, who is known mountain-wide for his solo acoustic guitar performances, and the Green Valley Lake All-Stars, who wowed the crowd with their renditions of Woodstock era classic rock songs, ranging from Creedence Clearwater’s “Proud Mary” to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
Nothing pairs better with good music than good food and there were plenty of good eats available at the festival, such as home-made soft tacos, sandwiches, cookies, cupcakes and soft drinks and beer, all of which were available at several locations in downtown Green Valley Lake.
In addition to music and food, the Mountain Community Alliance held a raffle to raise funds for scholarships and to support the local community garden. MCA is a nonprofit charity dedicated to disaster preparedness, community building and providing educational scholarships.
When asked how she liked the festival, 8-year-old Green Valley Lake resident Hannah Benz replied, “I have only lived here for three years, and this is the first time I’ve been to the festival. I really like it.”