Historical marker to recognize 1970 Byron Pop Festival
“It was kind of a culture shock for us Southern rednecks, with all the hippies,” said Tim Thornton, current owner of the site where all that grooved into rock history.
It was the Second Atlanta International Pop Festival, a concert Jimi Hendrix headlined that drew hundreds of thousands to rural Middle Georgia for music and freedom.
The Georgia Historical Society will memorialize the festival at 3 p.m. Saturday when it places a historical marker at the Middle Georgia Raceway, near where the concert was held July 3-5, 1970.
“It was the biggest thing that happened in Byron, Ga., if not the whole state,” Thornton said. “It’s great that we can commemorate it, and this historical marker that will kind of permanently mark its place in history is icing on the cake.”
The festival, put together by renowned Atlanta concert promoter Alex Cooley, isn’t as well-known as the 1969 Woodstock Festival but is revered by rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts all the same. It’s also known as the Woodstock of the South and was the largest American crowd Hendrix ever played in front of.
Estimates of the size of the audience range from 200,000 to 500,000.
Even at the low end, it was a lot more than the town of 1,500 had ever seen and a spectacular site according to Steve Rash, who shot film of the event, Thornton and news archives.
“It was madness,” said Rash, who in 1970 was a young Atlanta music show producer. “The bands would play all night. And we were right there.” Read more…