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Old 05-18-2010, 10:09 AM
bonni in wisconsin is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1
I was at the Iola Rock fest, even though I was only eight years old. My dad was on the stage crew, and we lived in Iola.

We were camped back stage next to the entertainers food tent. I remember several women being all in a tizzy, trying to get Ravi Shankar's tea just right.

And I remember my mom taking me down to the stage to see Buffy Sainte Marie perform. Other than that, it was all just a big camping trip for me.

I and another kid my age followed an enterprising guy around as he picked the local wild hemp (useless), and sold it to gullible attendees. Even we knew better.

When the bikers came, all the other women and children in the backstage camp were hustled into the woods and told to be very quiet until someone came back for us. I never heard much of what happened then, except that my dad came home with a very large Bowie knife that he took off of some guy that jumped him. I always had the impression that the guy was just somebody messed up that my dad talked down.
I later found out that the local sheriff rounded up every "able-bodied" man in the area and mass deputized them in downtown Iola (town of about 700 or 800 at the time) and they all rode out the festival grounds to take out the bikers. A friend of mine's dad carried that little deputy card with him at all times, just in case he was needed again. :-)
We also were very close to the hospital tent, which seemed well attended.

When I got back to school that fall, of course everyone knew that I'd been there (small town!), and the number one question of my peers? "Did you see naked people?"

If anyone is interested, there'll be a photo exhibit in nearby Amherst, Wisconsin, to mark the 40th anniversary of the festival, this summer, in June and July. It's in a little gallery on Main Street, and the street is only four of five blocks long, so you can't really miss it. Here's a link to the gallery.