Woodstock’s safety protocols prohibited festival-goers from bringing their own food and bottled water into the venue. Instead, they had to buy food from vendors on site, even though most of the snacks, meals and refreshments available were incredibly expensive.
“It was so hot you literally had to drink a gallon of water yourself an hour to stay hydrated,” said Sara, who attended Woodstock ’99 as a teenager. “There were definitely fountains there. But there was at least a 25-minute wait… So we went to get just a simple bottle of water. Nobody could afford that water.”
The average price of a bottle of water in the late 90s was around 65 cents. At Woodstock ’99, however, a single bottle cost an incredible $4.00, which then rose to $12.00 when sellers ran out. According to old footage featured in the documentary, a viewer complained that a small drink and meager side salad cost $9.00 in total.
Several members of the festival’s production team, including Colin Speir, Lee Rosenblatt and Pilar Law, noted that the price hikes were prompted by the founders and organizers of Woodstock. The higher-ups were determined to turn a hefty profit, especially after their previous revival, Woodstock ’94, which had crumbled financially due to overcrowding and security concerns.
It became clear that Woodstock ’99 no longer mimicked the “peace, love and flower power” vibes established by the original Woodstock; it was purely “a money-making business”.
“That was the time for me where it stopped becoming a concert-goer or festival-goer experience,” Rosenblatt said. “It was just about cutting budgets, cutting budgets. We have to make changes. We’re not making a profit. Their goal was to make money.”
Rosenblatt went on to say that officials at the Woodstock ’99 organization decided to sell all food rights to a group of affiliated companies, which had complete control over supplier pricing. Once the deal was done the prices were set and there was nothing the staff could do to challenge them.
“All the hopes and dreams of ‘Peace, Love and Understanding 1969’ have gone out the window.”