“Mac’s Party” Vermont music festivals, triggered events that eventually culminated in Phish’s Coventry performance
While Phish may have hosted perhaps the largest Vermont music festival, the Mac’s Party festivals were far more influential in changing Vermont’s culture for years to come. People didn’t just come to Vermont to get high and listen to music, they stayed in the Green Mountains of Vermont and established what locals referred to as “hippie communes”, mainly in the Northeast Kingdom, where Mac’s Parties were held.
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Bands such as April Wine, Warpig and Mahogany Rush performed at Mac’s Party.
Rick Donmoyer of Warpig, one of the bands that played at Mac’s Party, had this to say:
“I do have a tape of our Mac’s Party set in my possession but it is seriously compromised by both the original recording method and the problematic Sound System and stage monitor setup present at that show. Years ago, when it was first gifted to me by a Californian April Wine fan and collector, I spent many hours trying to digitally restore and edit the content to a listenable state but was only marginally successful.”
Thanks to Scott Wheeler of the Vermont Northland Journal along with Brian Smith, Roger Cartee and others we are able to include the following article about the infamous Mac Parties of the 1970’s. So sit back and get comfortable as you take a magical mystery tour back to the 1970’s. An era when an event like Mac’s Party bewildered native Vermonters and was viewed with disgust, fascination and/or bewilderment.
Vermont Music Festivals in the Northeast Kingdom
The second “Mac’s Party”, which was held in Holland, Vermont on Labor Day Weekend in 1973 brought music, drugs, controversy, and gunfire to the border community. For anybody who lived through the festival, or who lived in Holland at the time, the event is forever etched in their minds.
Pat Hunt – Preserving History One Article at a Time
by Scott Wheeler
Arline “Pat” Hunt of Morgan has written for numerous publications since she first began a sideline writing career in the 1950s.
Every bit of an upstanding professional woman and former Mrs. Vermont, Pat Hunt of Morgan most likely looked out of place as she made her way through the throng of party goers gathered at Mac’s Parties that Ronald “Mac” Worth held in Charleston in 1972, and in Holland in 1973. The parties attracted people from many walks of life-from local farm youth to long-haired bearded member of urban bike gangs.
“The first party was a shock for me,” Hunt said. “People didn’t care if I was there. A couple might be in the grass snuggling up and somebody might be shooting up drugs. It wasn’t a comfortable place to be but it was an experience.” However, she said she, with her now late husband, Paul, at her side, just went about her work writing about the part.
Following the 1972 festival, when rumors spread that Worth planned to hold a similar party on Mead Hill in Holland the
following year, Hunt jumped into the story with both feet, or at least with pen and paper in hand. Her writing provided reader of the Newport Daily Express and the Burlington Free Press with an impartial view into the parties, the raging debates that led up to and following the 1973 party – a party that, like the first one, is forever etched into the minds of the people who lived through it.
“I’d do it all over again,” Hunt said. “I’m always looking for an experience.”
The following is an excerpt of one of Hunt’s articles about the Mac’s Party that was held in Holland in 1973 that appeared in the August 31, 1973 issue of the Newport Daily Express:
In the festival parking area lot area near a camper bus, one of the bare chested men was getting a shoe in his arm with a hypodermic needle from another. “Oh, man, it smarts!” he blurted within hearing distance of this reporter, and he ran off.
Signs advertising pot, THC, and ocher drugs were stuck up among the tents. The smell of marijuana was evident and the sickening perfumed odor of the “cover up” patchouli oil was overpowering in sections of the grounds.
Anything went with the uninhibited youths. A young topless dancer with a bra painted on her bare skin was almost ignored by the crowds as she flung her arms around to the music from the bandstand.
Some people might ask, what has Pat Hunt written about? Really, the question should be what hasn’t she written about?
Going through her archives of articles, it is obvious that she has done far more than write stories; she has also preserved a tremendous amount of history that otherwise would have been lost forever.
“If I think something is interesting I go for it,” Hunt said. “I’d go to Mac’s Party again.” For that matter, she said, 1f she had been in town when the Phish Festival came to Coventry in 2004, attracting upwards of 100,000 people, most likely she would have gone, not to enjoy the music, or to party, but for the sheer experience of it.
“I find people interesting,” Hunt said. She likes to listen to why people do some of the things they do. For example, in the early 1970’s she visited at what at the time was Earth People’s Park in Norton, on at least two occasions. Composed of a group of people who wanted to get back to the earth, the group lived together in their own little community in the woods of that nested community. Her first trip was with Pat Hadlock who was then Norton’s health officer, while her second trip was with Derby pastor John Genco.
“They [the people of Earth People’s Park] lived in make-shift cabins and tents,” Hunt recalled. “They were just trying to be self-supporting.”
The following article is from the September 4, 1972 issue of the Burlington Free Press.
Sheriff Says “Kids Were Just Great” at Mac’s Party
By Pat Hunt
East Charleston, VT – The younger, uninhibited, carefree generation was out in force at Mac’s Party this weekend, the largest of the rock festival gathering. Vermont has ever seen.
While sheriff’s deputies put the figure at 15,000 people, the ticket-takers said it could run around 20,000 at the three-day party arranged by Ronald “Mac” Worth of Island Pond.
Spread out around the 300 acres owned by Mac’s grandfather were tent sites, campers, and sleeping bags in the woods or cramped in the congested field.
In the bandstand, ten bands were on hand for the round-the-clock hard-rock and rhythm and blue music. The bands were augmented by individual guitarists and small groups scattered around the large barbed wire enclosure.
It was a bargain rate of $5 for the entire party, including the camping. Worth, who did this as a commercial venture after a smaller successful festival during the July 4 weekend, took measures to keep incidents at a minimum. He had the approval
of the Charleston selectmen, hired a licensed electrician for the sound system and complied with requirements of the Health Department which had an officer on the scene Sunday.
Forty-seven outdoor toilets were installed for the event and 18 water faucets surrounded the bandstand area, where a 30 by 15 foot stage had been erected.
One of the most organized groups present was from Earth People’s Park which set up the free kitchen. They had donations of vegetables from farmers in the Craftsbury, VT area and picked baskets of apples to pass out. However, some of their food went begging because it was not what the people were used to, particularly the organic garden food, according to one of the cooks.
The Charleston Country Store did a booming business. It’s stock of beer, cigarettes, peanut butter, hot dogs, hamburgers, and bread bought out. Island Pond store also did a brisk business with the weekend crowd.
While the majority of state police in the Derby barracks joined the deputy sheriff’s department, the only major problem occurred Sunday morning when David Russell, 24, of Plainville, Conn., was shot in the leg by an unknown person. Police ruled the incident accidental and Russell was hospitalized in Newport. Lesser emergencies were handled by the medical staff on the festival’s grounds.
Deputy Sheriff Ernest Glen termed the party “very well organized, except for some parking problems.” He added, “The citizenry were apprehensive of what the kids might do and it scared them. Some reports have been exaggerated and the kids have been just great.”
This seemed to be the general consensus. How the word got around the country that Mac’s Party was the place to go Labor Day weekend is a question any publicity agent would like to know the answer to. There were cars from as far away as California and Florida, but the majority hailed from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Much advertising was done through posters, some by radio, but for the most part the young people said they heard of it by word of mouth.
Brian Smith of Derby-One of the Many Party Goers
by Scott Wheeler
A 21-year-old man just beginning to experiment with growing his hair out, Brian Smith of Derby saw Mac’s Party on the Ten Mile Square Road in East Charleston in 1972 as the perfect place to have a good time.
“I remember Mac saying that there were going to be a lot of people coming from all over, including Massachusetts and
Connecticut,” Smith said, referring to the host of the event, Ronald “Mac” Worth. I figured that sounded like a good time.
Smith, who now serves as the chairman of the Derby Select Board, said it sure was a good time. He and a group of his friends packed up their camping gear and stayed at the festival site for two nights and three days listening to music, socializing, and drinking alcohol. One thing they didn’t bring was ice. That meant having to drink their alcohol warm.
Some news reports estimated the number of people who attended the festival at between 15,000 and 20,000 people; however, Smith said he thinks that the number of people that actually showed up at the festival was greatly exaggerated. If he had to guess, he said he thinks the true number of people was around 2,500.
The crowd consisted of local people and people from around New England. Some locals found the festival a bit of a culture shock, he said. Among the outsiders that the party attracted were some a bit wild looking with long hair, and sometimes long beards. All said and done, though, Smith said everybody got along very well, although he understands there was a stabbing at the festival.
“The bands played almost 24 hour a day,” Smith recalled. “You could fall asleep listening to one band and wake up and be listening to another band. It was a lot of fun.”
When Mac’s Party was held on Mead Hill in Holland the following year, Smith said his life was too hectic to attend it. However his father then state representative Kermit Smith (who later became a senator), was very involved in the event, not as a partier, but in the controversy that led up to and followed the party.
Now in his 50’s, Brian Smith had no interest in attending the Phish Festival in 2004, a musical festival that brought gridlock and controversy to parts of Orleans County as upwards of 100,000 people flooded into Coventry. Instead of going to listen to Phish, Smith said he grabbed his fishing pole and went fishing.
The following article is from the August 21, 1973 issue of the Newport Daily Express
Second Mac’s Party Planned for Labor Day Weekend
By Pat Hunt
HOLLAND-Ronald “Mac” Worth is planning on an estimated 15,000 people for the Second Mac’s Party to be held here Labor Day weekend.
“We’re bending over backward to meet the requirement of the state, and going even beyond them,” he said Friday after a meeting with the Holland Selectmen , Environmental Conservation Board Representative, and Town Health Officer. In regard to the festival, the Town of Holland is represented by Attorney Andrew Pepin and by David Lalime from Pepin’s office, and Worth is now being represented by Attorney James Gallagher of St. Johnsbury. In contacting Pepin about meeting with the promoters and town officials, he said that there have been no official plans announced by Mac and that the first information he will be getting is what is put in the paper.
Mac contacted this reporter Friday to explain his plans which the town officials have asked him to put in writing for them.
“People seem to have very little faith in others, and want to keep Vermont and it beauty to themselves for selfish reasons,” Mac said, noting the objections which have cropped up to his rock festival. “It’s no more objectionable than the Barton Fair, and we don’t even have a midway,” Mac said.
The festival will be on a 200-acre site owned by his financial backer, Robert Abbott of Wildwood Valley, Morgan Center, and is located on Mead Hill in Holland, he said. Mac’s Party begins Friday evening, August 31, and concludes in the early morning hours Sunday. Music will be played from flatbed trailer trucks serving as a stage and with a sound system from Massachusetts which also served last year’s event which was held in East Charleston.
Musical groups which will play for two hours at a stretch include: Mahogany Rush, Wackers, Riverson, Grippen Mire, Magoo, Foot and Cold Water, King Biscuit Boy, Warpig, Mainline, April Wine, Long John and the Jukes, Albatross, Wildwood, and Babe Pine Boston Blues. The bands come from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Canada. There might be a couple of food concessions on the site, if they can be licensed, he said. The water supply from a drilled well will he piped around the area.
In cooperation with Orleans County Sheriff William Green, Mac said, traffic and parking systems are being developed. Mac has arranged for “No Parking” signs to be erected along all the access roads, with parking to be handled by deputy sheriffs on the festival site. He said that there was more room for cars than last year, but that an overflow could be accommodated on Abbott’s land across from the entrance.
Traffic is to be directed to Mead Hill from Route 111 at the Morgan Beach up the Valley Road and from Derby Line on the Holland Road. In the immediate festival area, there will be one way traffic on the roads, Mac explained. As far as facilities on the site itself, Mac aid, “We’re going to build whatever the State Health Engineer, Al Burns, recommends.”
A field hospital will be set up in two 40 foot vans, with Dr. Fred Shapiro of Barton bringing along some of his associates for round the,clock coverage, according to the promoter. Dr. Shapiro was expected here this week to look over the area
and recommend medical equipment necessary.
Mac said that he had arranged through Derby Line Fire Chief Benoit Blais to rent a fire truck and have two men on assignment there all the time. Blais said Saturday that there was no firm commitment yet, but Mac was to see him again. Arrangements have been made, however, to have a Newport Ambulance at the site, according to a spokesman for the ambulance service.
Arrangements for rubbish removal daily have been made through Donald Alger of Orleans, Mac said.
A fence is being erected along the perimeter of the property and 150 toilets were being built, as recommended under state regulation for 15,000 people.
The following article is from the August 25, 1973 issue of the Newport Daily Express
Over 100 at Holland to Discuss Party
By Pat Hunt
HOLLAND, VT The 100 people who turned out to discuss interim zoning Thursday night were obviously there for one reason – to stop Mac’s Party. But it was like pulling hen’s teeth to even get going, a moderator Harry Goodall failed to even get a motion on the zoning for a few minutes, and the Holland Elementary School sat quietly.
The comparative silence broke after the zoning passed when someone asked,”Are they going to have the rock festival?”
“Don’t ask me,” was the answer from the podium.
Things warmed up with accelerated hostility toward the planned Labor Day weekend event during the next hour, climaxed when Ronald “Mac” Worth stood before the towns people and fielded question and comments. The interim zoning, which will be in effect for two years while a permanent ordinance is being developed, passed on a voice vote with no discussion. The motion was made by Alphonse Patenaude and seconded by Victor Petell.
The only negative vote on zoning was from Edward Fortin, one of the younger voters, who said that he couldn’t see passing it just as a means of stopping Mac’s Party. He objected to some of the zoning regulation requiring permission to build. Representative Kermit Smith then commented after the vote that he was glad it passed but that it should have been in effect a year ago.
It was at this point that question began popping up about Mac’s Party.
“How come this action is going on on Mead Hill? We all signed the petition,” came out from someone in the hall.
The portion referred to was a protest to having the festival held in town and sent to the Governor. Town Clerk Mrs. Regional Page said that of the 187 on the check list, 179 had signed the petitions.
It was pointed out that health regulations had been adopted by the town officials, and town health officer Mrs. Lillian Kelley read them. These apply to festivals lasting more than 15 hours involving more than 500 people, governing water supplies, sewage disposal and food handling.
“Are these regulations the same as the Barton Fair? At the fair, we walked in papers and everything,” was heard from the audience. While Mrs. Kelley stated that as of now all regulations were being met for Mac’s Party, a taxpayer contended that last year promises were made but not kept, referring to the event held in East Charleston.
“What we’re afraid of is not that they’re going to do to Abbott’s (the festival site owned by promoter Robert Abbott), but what they do to the neighbors,” was another remark. Other were concerned with the noise level, trespassing on private property, and traffic congestion. “People going to the festival don’t create as much of a traffic problem as those with ‘nose trouble’ riding around to see what’s going on,” was one man’s answer.
Orleans County Sheriff William Green explained that a dozen deputy sheriffs would be on hand, paid by the promoters.
However, State Police will be paid by the taxpayer and one person remarked that tax money could be used a lot better than that.
Police Sergeant Arthur Yeaw explained the trespass law and said that Worth had printed signs and would post them on request stating, “Please Respect Private Property.” Yeaw was asked if selling drugs will be allowed, and he responded that it’s something they hope to control to some degree. He added that he was sure if there was a way to stop the party the attorneys would.
Mac Worth was asked to come forward by selectman Rodney Lyon, who sat up front with other Selectmen, Lawrence Judd and Roger Beauregard.
Worth outlined plans regarding police protection, rubbish removal, fire protection, medical service, water and other facilities.
When asked by Robert Castle, who lives across from the festival site, how much tickets cost and how much Mr. Abbott makes, Worth responded with the cost of the tickets and what is realized from the event is a personal matter. A woman stood up and stated that the fire truck Worth said he arranged to have from Derby Line was not available as she had just called Fire Chief Benoit Blais on the phone during the meeting.
Apparently frustrated by the questions and remarks, Worth did not respond to the contention and then said calmly, “I guess I’ll let you carry on your discussion,” as he retired to the back of the hall with his attorney James Gallagher.
Among the government and area people attending were Charles Carter, Northeast Vermont Development; Lawrence Curtis, U.S. Customs agent; Alfred Burns, Vermont Health Department; Robert Stille, U.S. Border Patrol.
The following article is from the August 31, 1973 issue of The Newport Daily Express
Rock Festival Bond Posted
By Pat Hunt
HOLLAND, VT Mac’s Party is all set to go – starting tonight – officially.
But yesterday there were already several hundred camped out in cents, trailers, and vans on the Mead Hill site for the weekend rock festival. Some, having experienced the crowd at Watkins Glen, said they were taking no chance and so were getting there early.
Last minute efforts to stop the event proved futile and impractical on the eve of the festival and many festival goers already in the area. Thursday’s court session, where the Town of Holland had requested an injunction to stop the festival, was resolved with stipulations agreed to by the town and promoter.
Attorney General Kimberly Cheney, attorney for the promoter James Gallagher, Holland’s Attorney Andrew Pepin, and State’s Attorney John Howard met for an hour and a half behind closed doors before agreeing to stipulations which required Ronald “Mac” Worth to post a $25,000 bond. The bond is to guarantee repairs for any damage to property and individuals from the
The promoters are also required to take certain steps to see that the festival is contained within the site by posting of signs and by announcements made over the sound system.
“At this late stage, it seems better to have a controlled situation than have people barred from the site to roam at will over the country side,” Pepin said. “If the injunction had been requested last June, we might have been able to do something.”
Worth was also confronted by the Deputy Tax Commissioner Edwin Goldkamp and by Gerald Streeter of the Tax Department, while at the courthouse yesterday. The tax official said that nothing had been filed in Montpelier for the sales tax, which is charged on all ticket sales, or for the room and meals tax collectible from the concessions.
A Newport restaurant, Gantre’s, is running a stand called “Miles,” and the other concession stand is operated by Golburg’s of Colchester, Conn. Both will sell hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks.
An entourage of state and area officials left the courthouse for a noon meeting Thursday in Morgan where a group of area residents gathered on the church lawn. Rodney Barrup, who owns field near the entrance to the Mead Hill festival site, called for Cheney to bring in the National Guard. The Attorney General said that the Governor was the only one who could call out the Guard, to which Barrup responded, “If we end up with 100,000 people at Mac’s Party, for 25 miles there won’t be any food or gas left”
“If we can’t get protection, we’ll make our protection.”
Cheney warned the residents against taking the law into their own hands, but Barrup insisted the National Guard should be at least brought to the Newport Armory where they’d be on call to get here within a half hour should trouble occur.
He said that he was concerned when Worth talked in terms of 15,000 people, but that in talking with perennial festival goers from Connecticut the night before, they estimated crowds would reach 100,000.
When Cheney urged Barrup to sit back and wait, Barrup said, “We’ve sat back too long. It’s time to take action. People are up in arms. Just because we’re up in the woods, people in Montpelier don’t know we’re here,” he charged. Barrup added that he had had enough trouble for one week losing 24 cow’s struck by lighting in Tuesday’s storm.
Cheney explained lack of state action to Barrup, Alphonse Patenaude, Cyril Worth, Sen. Arthur Jones, and others who were gathered around the lawn that his decision not to seek an injunction was that there were no grounds. However, he conceded if numbers grew, it would mean calling for more help from enforcement personnel.
“I think environmental control has all the laws necessary if they could be enforced,” said Cyril Worth, who added that hospital bills; were another thing the towns were worried about. Morgan selectman Roland Besaw asked about the $25,000 bond covering his town and was informed that it would go for any damage caused as a result of Mac’s Party.
Barrup and Roland Gonyaw said they had talked with Robert Abbott, financial backer and owner of the festival site concerned with some $20,000 in crops in the area. Abbott offered to put up a fence, they said.
While the residents and officials were hassling about the situation a Connecticut car came over the hill from the party site with 14 young people – five inside and nine on the roof, truck and hood.
“See, thats’ just one of the problems,” someone pointed out.”
State Police Sgt. Arthur Yeaw who was with the group, immediately stopped the car and took the driver aside to issue a ticket.
Regarding other traffic infractions, Patenaude said he’d been awakened at 3 a.m. from noise from an old car. State’s Attorney John Howard said that starting Thursday night, and if anything occurs, proper action would be taken. A motorcade of the residents, officials, and press then went up to the site and looked over the facilities.
The following article is from the August 31, 1973 issue of the Newport Daily Express.
Mac’s Party, A Nightmare for Holland People
By Pat Hunt
HOLLAND, VT – Mac’s Party was like a nightmare for the residents of the area who spent sleepless nights of anxiety; for the law enforcement personnel exhausted from 12 hour shifts;for those who suffered losses from stealing and shoplifting. For the hospital which had a packed emergency room at times; and even for Mac.
After the gate crashing riot and violence Saturday night, the rock festival ended abruptly, with a mass exodus of hitchhikers, the cars, vans, and campers carrying thousands of “hung over” young people back home. Most were from Massachusetts and Connecticut where Mac had concentrated his advertising, along with the publicity and word of mouth at other summer rock festivals.
Police place attendance estimate at some 10,000 over the weekend while announced figures from the bandstand were 20,000. Most were “free loaders,” incensed by the $10 price tag with only one or two bands that had any status.
Friday night there were warnings of violence when one of Mac’s security guards with a machete strapped to his belt ran to a deputy sheriff warning him of indignant crowd gathering at the entrance corral with intent to overpower guards and gain
entrance. Things settled down for the night, but still with an undercurrent of tension building up between the promoter’s security force and the throngs of young people.
The set-up on the 200-acre Mead Hill site provided for parking areas near the road, and with the entrance gate and ticket booth a few hundred yards into the field. The bandstand and toilet facilities were enclosed with a high barbed wire fence protected with Mac’s armed security men, many of whom were recruited from the Watkins Glen festival.
“Why pay the $10 when you could camp in the parking area, live it up on beer and wine, or sit around starry, eyed from drugs, and still hear the music? was the attitude of nearly all the crowd.
When violence erupted in mid-evening Saturday, a dissident festival goer on the non-paying side said that the “hippie militants” or “goons” of Mac’s security forces were waving around machetes who might try to break through.
We plastered them goons with rock and Molotov cocktails and tried to burn down their outhouse,” bragged a foul, mouth youth in describing the incident the next day.
The promoter’s men fired some rubber bullets into the massing crowd of a few hundred at the fence and with that a near riot ensued for a few minutes until the fence was torn down, a witness said, describing the bedlam.
Two or more shotgun blasts erupted from the crowd, and bottles were heaved.
Ambulances were called and nine persons were taken to the hospital, seven of them released by Sunday and the others Monday.
State’s Attorney John Howard, who said no law enforcement officer were involved, listed the injured as Joseph Ciampa, Windsor, Conn., hit with bird shot in the abdomen; James F. Herman, Enfield, Conn., hit with bird shot in the chest; Ray Degino, Waterbury, Conn., hit with bird shot in the leg; Norman Collette, Fitchburg, Mass., hit with bird shot in the stomach and leg; David O’Clair, Attleboro, Mass., hit in the leg with an unknown projectile; Thoma Havera, New Britain, Conn., hit in the arm with an unknown projectile; Victor Lowell of Burlington, Vt., and Chris Martin of Montpelier, Vt., hit with thrown bottle, and Bradley Dimock, hit with a fist. Several of the injured were Mac’s security men.
The origin of the shots had not been determined. The investigation is being continued through the office of States Attorney Howard and the Vermont State Police.
Police and deputy sheriffs kept traffic moving all weekend along the well-patrolled roads in the area and picked up 125 traffic violators. There were another 100 festival connected arrests, mostly possession of illegal drugs found at the Derby Line border station. Many festival goers mistakenly drove too far north of Interstate Highway 91, found themselves barely into Canada, and were searched when they attempted to re-enter the United States.
An explosive Molotov cocktail, thrown at a deputy’s car near the Harlan Burns residence, caused minor damage, according to police.
Other arrests involved stolen cars, stolen goods, illegal sales of liquor and beer, disturbing the peace, and disorderly conduct. Wreckers were called by the police to tow off cars parked in the cemetery and along the road side.
“The situation at the jail is just plain a disaster,” according to jailer William Fyfe on Sunday. “They’ve came in so fast, I can’t even count them. Some I don’t think we even know are here.” He added that 70 were at the jail in Newport for the noon meal Saturday. A special session of District Court extended into the evening Saturday with Judge Lewis Springer presiding. Forty-five cases were processed, another 30 or more were waiting, and other offenders are out on bail.
Complaints from the young people were that it wasn’t worth the $10. “lt’s a rip-off, the music is so bad,” said a bikini-clad Connecticut girl at the Morgan Beach.
Crowds spent the hot humid days at the public beach at Lake Seymour in Morgan, five miles from the festival, bathing with little or nothing on. Two police cars, patrolled the lake, clearing trespassers from private beaches.
Pare’s Snack Stand at Morgan Center was bared of stock cigarettes, food, soft drinks, and beer by festival customers, and across the street in front of Seymour Lodge Jim and Frances Oliver were selling sandwiches.
At the Morgan Store Mrs. Earl Gray said that they were keeping up with things and had stocked up in anticipation of demands, letting in a few people at a time from the line which formed out front. Young Lauri and Kelley Besaw set up a fruit-ade stand on their lawn and made $3.50 in the first hour.
At Jack Basil’s in Island Pond where many bought their beer and cigarettes, others just decided to help themselves. When the elderly owner was waiting on a customer, a dozen youths walked in and helped themselves to a table full of shoes, and
Basil could do nothing to stop them. He did catch one man trying to steal a clock, another taking overalls, however. Complaints from the young people were heard, while others said they were “having a ball’ at the festival. Several had good words for the law enforcement personnel.
“The police have been real great and aren’t out to hassle anyone,” said a bearded New Hampshire youth. Another disputed the point, “They busted some for selling beer without a license but didn’t dare arrest the ones selling dope.” In the festival parking area over near a camper bus, one of the bare-chested men was getting a shot in his arm with a hypodermic needle from another.
“Oh, man, it smarts!”he blurted within hearing distance of this reporter, and he ran off.
Signs advertising pot, THC, and other drugs, were struck up among the tents. The smell of marijuana was evident and the sickening, perfumed odor of the “cover up” patchouli oil was overpowering in sections of the ground.
Anything went with the uninhibited youth. A young topless dancer with a bra painted on her bare skin was almost ignored by the crowd as she flung her arm around to the music from the bandstand.
The music from the few bands which played intermittently was almost incidental to the whole weekend gathering, although this was the calling card which presumably brought the throngs. A disc jockey from Connecticut who said that he had been advertising Mac’s Party for the past month expressed disillusionment when he was here because of the poor bands.
Whether or not twins were born at the festival, as announced Saturday over the loud speaker, has still not been confirmed.
State Senator Arthur Jones (R-Orleans, Essex) described the festival site Monday.
“It looks like a battlefield. There were fires there Sunday night-the latrines and ticket booths were burned down.”
He added that everyone seems to have “battle fatigue” in the area-the resident and law enforcement people particularly.
Gov. Thomas Salmon told Jones that he had had reports twice a day over the weekend from Major Glenn Davis of the State Police and was aware of conditions.
“This is real land use,” Jones said, after viewing the remains in Holland. It’s going to take this small border town a long time to recover from the anxiety, sleepless nights, filth, and harassment its residents suffered from a festival which they never wanted in the first place and took all steps it could to stop.
“Our hill which once looked so pretty now looks worse than a city dump,” said Mr. Sydney Farrow, Sunday. She is one of many nearby residents who felt the impact of Mac’s Party.
“If Holland had to suffer in order to wake up the rest of the state, maybe we did our duty,” she added.
The following article appeared in the September 3, 1973 issue of the Burlington Free Press.
Mac’s Party Breaks Up, Beset by Gate-Crashers, Many Arrests
By Pat Hunt
HOLLAND, VT-Nearly 100 arrests and a shooting incident which left at least nine persons injured marred “Mac’s Party,” a Labor Day weekend rock festival set in this small Northeast Kingdom town. While crowd estimates ranged from 10,000 to 35,000, most of the vacation crowd was gate-crashers who refused to pay the $10 admission fee to hear the several Canadian bands that played through the hot and humid weekend.
Most shunned the fenced in bandstand area, where water and toilets were also available, preferring to camp in the free parking area close to the road, constructing a makeshift city of multicolored tents, cars, vans, and improvised lean-to’s built from plastic sheets and strips of wood.
According to eyewitnesses, violence flared Saturday evening when shots were exchanged between gate-crashers and a security force, who were reportedly carrying weapons, including machete and axes, to stave off the gatecrashers. A volley of rocks,
bottles, and Molotov cocktails from a crowd of 200 outside the fence followed the shooting incident.
A press release prepared by Orleans State’s Atty. John Howard said no law official were involved in the incident and an investigation was under way. One deputy sheriff’s car was damaged when a Molotov cocktail hit the vehicle parked near the entrance of the 200-acre festival site.
An estimated 100 persons were arrested in festival-connected incidents, mostly for drug possession. Many concert goers were arrested at the Derby Line border station after going too far north on Interstate 91 and crossing into Canada. The cars
were then searched when they attempted to reenter the country.
The “party” promoted by “Mac” Worth and Robert Abbott, whose 200-acre farm housed the festival, could turn out to be a financial disaster for its backers.
“Everything got fouled up,” Abbott said, conceding the concert “most probably lost a lot of money.” Worth said the future of rock festival in the area was questionable. “If people want to see them, they’ll have to make up their minds that someone has to pay the bills,” he said.
The music had ended Sunday night, a full day sooner than scheduled, reportedly due to the financial problems at the festival. By Sunday night the crowd at the site had dropped to a few hundred ….
The hoard of concert goers, mostly from Connecticut and Massachusetts where the festival was well advertised, began arriving as early as late Wednesday. Holland Town Clerk Mrs. Evelyn Page said some of the young people told her they came early to avoid traffic problems experienced at a festival earlier this summer in Watkins Glen, N .Y. Mrs. Page said local residents were happy to see the young people leaving the area, adding she was unaware of any personal problems directly involving local residents. The dairy farming community with a population of 383 persons had tried a flurry of legal maneuvers to block the festival, including the adoption of an interim zoning plan barring use of the land for such events. But town people decided Thursday it was better to accommodate the concert than face the horde of disenchanted young people who would have arrived anyway.
Governor Salmon had earlier entered the controversy, saying he didn’t expect trouble from the crowd, adding he had seen motorcycle meets in the southern part of the state and understood the town people’s worries. “I want the people of Holland to know I’m painfully aware of it,” Salmon had said of the planned festival.
Holland residents plan to go to Montpelier when the legislature meet this January to show their support for a measure to bar similar event in Vermont. Rep Kermit Smith, D-Derby and Sen. Arthur Jones, R-Orleans-Essex, are planning to suggest the anti festival legislation.
Special thanks to the following for their contribution to this article:
Newport Daily Express
Burlington Free Press