Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 2:06 a.m.
It will be 40 years ago this August that hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Max Yasgur’s muddy New York farm for the Woodstock music festival, which came to encapsulate what people adored or loathed about the turbulent 1960s.
Held during the height of the Vietnam War and on the heels of campus and racial unrest, the gathering featured many of rock music’s most accomplished performers. As for the performances, one of the most memorable was the Jimi Hendrix rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Nothing can ever fully recapture that historic event, but the Fremont Street Experience deserves credit for planning a tribute to Woodstock that will include free concerts as well as tie-dye T-shirts and other symbols of the era. Two of the scheduled performers, Canned Heat and Blood, Sweat & Tears, played at the festival.
As reported Sunday by the Associated Press, the Fremont Street Experience plans to spend $1.7 million on a campaign between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends to commemorate the 1969 festival. Participating downtown casinos also intend to have coordinated activities.
It is an innovative idea because the festivities could draw tourists who might have otherwise decided to go elsewhere for summer vacation.
Despite Southern Nevada’s sour economy, it is good to see that business people are continuing to think of creative ways to uphold Las Vegas’ reputation as the entertainment capital of the world.
If the Woodstock event succeeds, the Fremont Street Experience should take advantage of that momentum by promoting other special events around specific themes, each of which will likely draw niche audiences. That has proved to be a successful formula, as we have seen with the National Finals Rodeo, NASCAR weekend and major conventions.
Many tourists, in search of a memorable experience, are looking for something different. Woodstock certainly delivered on that promise. Now it’s the Fremont Street Experience’s turn to show it has what it takes to give visitors lasting good memories.