Southwest Peace Festival, Lubbock, Texas 1970

Southwest Peace Festival, Lubbock, Texas 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

The Southwest '70 Peace Festival, was developed by musician Robert Gamble (aka P. J. Belly) and others and was a festival that ran March 26-28, 1970, on the Floyd L. Reynolds farm near Woodrow, Texas, in Lubbock County. 

It had been originally permitted for a site near Dickens, but the festival was blocked three days before its opening by an injunction of district court judge Pat Moore. Boo! Stop harshing our buzz, Pat! 

This sudden change of venue meant, in essence, the new site wasn’t really ready when people started turning up. There were power outages throughout the festival and other technical snafus.

Canned Heat, Johnny Winter and Barry McGuire performed, joined by other acts such as the Dallas-based group Bloodrock. The Byrds cancelled; Three Dog Night came to Lubbock but never left their hotel to face the drizzle, dropping temperatures, and howling winds.

The Man was severely uptight about this fest and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers were supplemented by regional departments, Texas Rangers, and Parks and Wildlife wardens until the law enforcement contingent reached 357 including 60 in plain clothes, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. 

However, they needn’t have got their panties in a wad, only about 4,000 turned up to groove as the weather was so bad. Matters were not helped by upwind farmers ploughing fields and unleashing a stinging sandstorm of dirt over the crowd. 624 people were arrested - the record for a single day in Lubbock - and by the last day only a few hundred hardy souls were left.

Under the witty headline of Wind 'Blows Mind' For Rock Devotee, The wonderfully named W. Eugene W. Smith filed a well-written report for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.

“The police have been kind and the natives distant so far, but Old Mother Nature welcomed 1970's first "rock music festival" in a good old fashioned unkind West Texas way today - with blowing dirt. The vanguard of expected tens of thousands of young music devotees huddled around campfires and in cars on the Floyd Reynolds property southeast of Woodrow.

Their faces grimy from the dust, stringy hair of male and female alike whipped by the wind, the youngsters, most of them from West Texas so far, awaited the Thursday morning opening of the three-day event.

The curious were far more plentiful than the involved, as Farm to Market Road 41, running adjacent to the festival site's north side, was crowded with slowly moving cars. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) patrolmen were observed issuing two traffic citations, both to very ordinary looking West Texans

"We opened up our tent last night ," ventured one long-haired youth, "and it just inflated and blew away."

A wind clocked by the Lubbock Weather Bureau at more than 40 miles per hour whipped winter-ploughed cotton fields and over the site, and the passage of hundreds of car tires and highway department machinery working on roads in the area added to the dirt.

Tents dotted the former farmland, and some of the youths helped with building concession stands and other makeshift structures needed for the festival.

The music was set to begin blaring at 10:00 a.m. Thursday. The early arrivals, exhibiting license plates from such places as Dallas, Midland, Kansas, North Dakota, Florida, and Mississippi, said they expected no trouble. Some ventured that the DPS patrolmen, 235 of which are being brought in especially for the event, are "nice cats."

Those expecting trouble said they feel it will come from local residents if it comes.

"Everyone seems to think we should be standing by the door with a gun," declared Mrs. Bernard Rogers, who, with her husband, runs the only business, a liquor store, within walking distance.

"The ones that have come in here so far have been very polite and nice," she said.

Isn’t that a great colour piece? The fear of the hippie invasion was a powerful thing, driven by the already mythologised lifestyle they represented. And then they turn up and everyone realises they’re just kids who like rock and roll and not some alien lifeforce. 

The whole place was turned into a mud bath by one of the big rainstorms you can get in those parts. The fences came down the second day. People just walked over it out of the mud, and it just collapsed. Bands feared getting zapped from the power with all the water around, so would leave the stage until it ceased, come back on a play a bit more, then go off as soon as more rain arrived. 

The whole thing was a chaotic mess. Another storm on Easter Sunday ended the thing early. People had travelled from all over the country but in total across the whole piece only about 13,000 showed up. Some wanted their money back, others just shrugged and wrote it off as just one of those things, man. 

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