Rockfest 70 News Archive. Background Picture of Powder Ridge Rock Festival, Middlefield, CT 1970

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New York Times: August 1, 1970

MUSIC IS HEARD AT ROCK FESTIVAL

Singer and Groups Perform Despite Connecticut Ban

Special To The New York Times

MIDDLEFIELD, Conn., July 31— A popular rock balladeer and two professional bands performed at the Powder Ridge ski area last night but a state attorney said it was "not quite clear" whether they had violated a court order prohibiting a rock, festival here this weekend.

Initially States Attorney J. Vincent J. Scamporino, who had been designated to enforce the court order, said it was clear the two bands were in violation of the injunction. But when he was told of reports that neither the bands nor the singer had been paid for appearing, he said, "That would make a difference"

The singer, who is known professionally only as Melanie, had been among those advertised to perform at the festival and Mr. Scamporino said they had all been advised that they risked arrest if they appeared. The two bands had not been listed in the festival program.

Police Investigating

Mr. Scamporino said he doubted that the entertainers had agreed to work for nothing and added that he had asked state police to look into the matter.

The singer and the two bands did much to dissipate the sense of depression and disappointment for the more than 30,000 young men and women who have flocked to Powder Ridge hoping that somehow a weekend of rock music would be presented. The depression had begun to spread among them earlier in the day, and hundreds had broken camp and headed for home. But the exodus was checked when the bands started playing.

"We were going to Boston tomorrow, but I don't think we'll make It now," said Steve Dokey, 21 years old, who had hitchhiked from Buchanan, Mich. with friends. "I know we won't. We're definitely staying. This is getting good."

Outside the festival medical center 18-year-old Peter Roland sat on a low bench talking about his new-born daughter, Deena Amore. His wife, Shelly, went into labor with the .child, at the resort yesterday and was later born at a hospital in nearby Middletown.

Instead of passing out cigars. Mr. Roland was giving away marijuana to his friends.

"I'm really glad this happened here," said Mr. Roland. "It's a groovy world here and the baby's going to be a beautiful person." The first live music today began unexpectedly at 6:10 P.M. Ronnie Boudreau, the manager of the recently-formed Jelba, a New Haven rock group, said he stumbled onto an electrical outlet and plugged in a guitar cord. "When it worked," he said, "I said, 'Let's play.'"

Later, the Jelba and a jazz band from Bridgeport called the Goodhill played for up to 8,000 persons clustered on a sloping hillside.

Neither of the groups had been on the original schedule of performers for the festival.

Louis Zemel, a co-owner of Powder Ridge, said he had not invited the performers, had no idea who they were nor how they came to be here.

Frisbee-playing and other games diminished in the heat of the day, but drug sales continued to be brisk.

John Curry, a volunteer medical aide, said more than 800 youths have suffered bad reactions to drugs over the last four days, nearly 400 of them today. He said the medical staff and its facilities were being strained by the flood of drug cases, and that the situation would become critical "if the volume picks up."

Mr. Zemel had been arrested last night and charged with contempt of court for allegedly violating the injunction banning the festival. He had said earlier he believed he had been complying with the court order.

The gloom that earlier engulfed many of the youths at the resort did not, however, seem to extend beyond Powder Ridge and a stream of newcomers offset the departing youths."

At midafternoon Mr. Zemel estimated that more than 30,000 youths were still on the property.

The state police barricades that went up on roads up to two miles from Powder Ridge on Thursday remained in place today. Only residents, reporters and emergency vehicles were permitted to drive to Middlefield, but no restrictions were placed on pedestrians.

Arthur Meckley, the First Selectman, or Mayor, of this town of 4,050, said it was impossible to stop youths on foot.

Some of the festive spirit that has sprung up at Powder Ridge, was diminished today by a ban placed on swimming in Powder Puddle when it appeared that the pond might be polluted.


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Rockfest '70 Robb Strycharz, 1998-2006
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