The festival bears the name "Woodstock" because it was originally scheduled to take place in the town of Woodstock, in Ulster County, but the town offered no appropriate site to host such a large event. A site was found in the town of Wallkill; local opposition arose, however, and the event was almost cancelled altogether. But Sam Yasgur persuaded his father Max to allow the concert to be held on the family's property, located in Sullivan County, which lies about 40 miles southwest of Woodstock itself.
Although the show had been planned for a maximum 50,000 attendees, over 500,000 eventually attended, most
of whom did not pay admission. The highways leading to the concert were jammed with traffic and people as they abandoned their cars and walked for miles to the concert area. The weekend was rainy, facilities were overcrowded, and attendees shared food, alcoholic beverages, and drugs. Local residents of this modest tourist-oriented area gave blankets and food to some concertgoers. However,
no violence was reported and the fact that attendees were remarkably well behaved was particularly noted.
The festival did not initially make money for the promoters, although, thanks to record sales and proceeds from the highly regarded film of the event, it did eventually become profitable.
There were three deaths at Woodstock: one from a heroin overdose, one from a ruptured appendix, and one from being run over by a tractor. Two unconfirmed births reportedly occurred at Woodstock.