It started out being called the ‘Sedilia Bluegrass Festival”…The Ozark Music …

Written by on July 19, 2018

It started out being called the ‘Sedilia Bluegrass Festival”…

The Ozark Music Festival was held July 19–21, 1974 on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri. While the Woodstock Festival from 1969 is the most well-known rock festival, the Ozark Music Festival was one of the largest music festivals ever held. “No Hassles Guaranteed ” was the motto of the festival.

Some estimates have put the crowd count at 350,000 people.
A company called Musical Productions Inc. (MPI) from Kansas City promoted the festival, and assured officials from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (the state agency which oversaw the State Fair) and the Sedalia Chamber of Commerce that the three-day weekend event would be a blue-grass and “pop rock” festival with no more than 50,000 tickets sold.

Even though the festival was not scheduled to start until Friday, July 19, thousands had arrived by Thursday night and there was a steady line of cars, trucks, vans, hitchhikers and even an occasional hippie camper slowly winding towards Sedalia and the fairgrounds. While in line, festival-goers were advised that once inside the grounds, vehicles would not be allowed back outside until the festival was over; many left a vehicle outside the fence for beer runs.

Wolfman Jack, beloved DJ for WLS heard of the size of the crowd and flew in from Chicago by helicopter.

The bands that performed included:

Bachman–Turner Overdrive
Premiata Forneria Marconi
Peter Sinfield
Blue Öyster Cult
Marshall Tucker Band
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Boz Scaggs
Ted Nugent
David Bromberg
Leo Kottke
Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Electric Flag
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
The Earl Scruggs Revue
Charlie Daniels Band
Joe Walsh and Barnstorm
The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Jimmie Spheeris
Bill Quateman
Jefferson Starship
Fresh Start
Babe Ruth
Locomotiv GT
The Sweet
Shawn Phillips
REO Speedwagon
Elvin Bishop

The temps during the festival approached 100º which led to many of the attendees to remove their clothes and wander the grounds naked.

By Monday, July 22, the festival crowd had left, leaving a field of garbage behind. Damage estimates of $100,000 were reported, and with the Missouri State Fair only a few weeks away the fairgrounds had to be cleaned up quickly. Damage and garbage remained, along with a lingering few waiting around for their friends who had been sent to medical facilities for treatment for dehydration.

After the festival the city of Sedalia only had a few weeks to clean up for the Missouri State fair, so helicopters were used for spraying lime over the fairgrounds as a precaution against the possible outbreak of disease.

On the ground, bulldozers scraped up the topsoil, which was (reportedly) littered with discarded drug paraphernalia and gnawed cobs of corn from a neighboring field along with mountains of contaminated dirt and garbage which were hauled to the county landfills.

Meanwhile, festival-goers crowded the Interstate 70 rest stops to catch up on sleep lost during the weekend. Tents, cots and sleeping bags were spread throughout rest stops all along the highway.

The Missouri Senate met in October 1974 and discussed the events of the music festival in the committee report. The report states that, “The Ozark Music Festival can only be described as a disaster. It became a haven for drug pushers who were attracted from throughout the United States. The scene made the degradation of Sodom and Gomorrah appear mild. Natural and unnatural sex acts became a spectator sport. Frequently, nude women promoted drugs with advertisements on their bodies.”

Sounds like it was one hell of a party. Any of you there for this ‘bluegrass’ festival 44 years ago?

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