A Guide to the History of Dallas, Texas

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Son of Bethel
The 1969 Texas International Pop Festival


In August 1969, one of the most memorable events of modern American history occurred when a half-million young people gathered in upstate New York for the now-legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair. There, over a three-day period, despite traffic jams, thunderstorms, and shortages of food and water, peace and goodwill prevailed. Afterwards, the timely release of a three-hour documentary film and two soundtrack record albums allowed the millions more who'd missed it, like myself, an opportunity to experience Woodstock second-hand. All these things, combined with the media attention the festival attracted both during and since, has assured that today it is hard to find anyone (even among those born since 1969), who have not at least heard of it.

But just as there are thousands of millions who are aware of Woodstock's place in American cultural history, undoubtedly there are an equal number who have forgotten, or who never knew, that Woodstock was but one of some ten major rock festivals held in the United States during 1969. And today, there are probably few outside of the 120,000 or so who attended, who recall that one of those events was held in Texas, not far from Dallas.

I'm sorry to say I also missed this one. Although my home was in Dallas, at the time I was away serving in the Navy. But ever since I found out what I missed, I've regretted not being there.

The Texas International Pop Festival took place over Labor Day weekend 1969 at the Dallas International Motor Speedway in Lewisville. There, for three music-filled days, thousands of local kids rubbed shoulders with some who'd come all the way from New York to see and hear many of the same performers they'd enjoyed at Woodstock only two weeks earlier.

This book is an attempt to capture in words what the Texas International Pop Festival was all about. To some, it may seem odd that it's written by someone who wasn't even there. But like Jack Curry, who authored Woodstock: The Summer of Our Lives, I can report that not attending didn't hamper my research. I'm hopeful my enthusiastic interest in both local history and 60's rock music has made up for a lack of first-hand knowledge.

The book's title was inspired by a story which appeared in TIME magazine. In it, the Texas International Pop Festival and two other rock music festivals which took place on the same weekend were called the "Sons of Bethel" - a reference to the fact that all three were smaller versions of the larger Woodstock festival, which had been held near the town of Bethel, New York.

By the time this book appears in print, Woodstock `94, a festival commemorating the 25th anniversary of the original event (and featuring some of the same artists who appeared in 1969), will have occurred. But, so far as I know, there aren't any plans to mark the silver anniversary of the Texas International Pop Festival in a similar manner. I think it's a shame because the Texas event, although little-known, appears, on the whole, to have exemplified that same spirit of love and peace for which Woodstock alone is famed. Hopefully, for those who were there as well as for those who wish they could have been, the pages which follow will make up for the oversight in some small way.


The Author

2006 Introduction     Festival Summer

Copyright © 1994 & 2006 by Steven Butler. All rights reserved.

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