Sound Storm Festival 1970 United States

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Wisconsin's first outdoor rock festival, a miniature Woodstock.

"Only a handful of injuries or arrests were reported. Participants... universally recalled Sound Storm as a social and musical success. It was, however, a financial disaster — during the Grateful Dead's performance someone stole the suitcase containing gate receipts." (quotes: Wisconsin Historical Society)


POYNETTE, WIS. - The bacchanalian rite that began here Friday with wine, women, weeds and virtually nonstop acid rock music began to wane Sunday night.
Thousands who camped for the weekend in the kames and drumlins of a rolling wooded farmland near here began to leave after the Grateful Dead - a nationally popular rock group and the top billed band of the "Sound Storm" rock fest - left the stage.
The sheriff's department estimated Sunday's crowd at 25,000. Another 25,000 were here Saturday and 12,000 on Sunday - many of them holdovers for the entire three day celebration.
At 11 p.m., there were about 3,000 persons at the site and promoters said the bizarre bazaar probably would wind up about 3 a.m. Monday.
Sunday's crowd climbed higher and higher as the sun made its ascent. Many persons in it were in states of delirium from the caterwauling guitars and the drugs and marijuana.
One naked young man danced atop a U-Haul van beside the four tier stage.
An "Earth People Beach" was established beside a creek that meanders through the 660 acre wooded farmland two miles west of Poynette.
Dozens of young men and women peeled off their clothes and frolicked in the water.
One young woman in the teeming crowd, unabashed by the photographers who approached her, sun bathed nude save for her rose colored glasses.

Donald K. Bobo, vice president of Golden Freak, Inc., of Madison, which promoted the festival, said Sunday night, "we're wiped out, bankrupt, we've lost 25,000 bucks."
Bobo said that although crowds were large, thousands of persons entered the sprawling grounds without paying. He declined to say what the production costs were for such things as renting the land, hiring nearly 50 rock bands and more than 100 security guards.
The workmen who manned the mobile electric generating plant for the stage lights and musical amplifiers complained late Sunday that they had not been paid. They threatened to pull the plug.
Donations were then collected from the crowd to keep the beat going. At about 11 p.m., $500 had been collected - half the amount the workmen said they had been promised.
A highlight Sunday, besides the appearance of the Grateful Dead, was a hippie wedding on stage.
Barbara Swenson, 21, of Madison, a winsome bride with a garland of baby's breath flowers in her blond hair and wearing a floor-length cotton gown, gave this expanation for the fest wedding:
"All of these people are our friends and where could we find a church big enough for them?"
The bridegroom, Robert Leslie, 22, of Oconomowoc, lead guitarist in the Northern Comfort, one of the performing groups, nodded agreement.
Columbia County Sheriff Vearn Golz reported that only three arrests were made during the three days - two for littering and one for drunken driving.
"It's just amazing," Golz said. "If you had this many middle age people, drinking the way these kids are, you'd have no end of fights and trouble."
The major note of trouble of the festival was a fire which destroyed an abandoned farmhouse on the grounds and three cars parked nearby.
About 20 volunteer firemen from the village of Poynette battled the blaze which leveled the two story building. There was no immediate estimate of damage in the fire, which authorities said was of unknown origin.
A supervising nurse in a medical aid station reported that the 35 volunteer nurses and doctors had given medical attention to about 60 persons, two dozen of them for bad drug trips.

(by Dean Jensen, from the Milwaukee Sentinel, April 27 1970)
Sound Storm Festival 1970 poster
Sound Storm Rock Revival 1970
Sound Storm Festival 1970 Poster - Artwork by Robert Ocegueda
Article Dean Jensen, Milwaukee Sentinel, April 27 1970
Fri Apr 24, 1970 - Sun Apr 26, 1970
York Farm
Kent Rd
Poynette Wisconsin 53955
United States
Sound Storm Rock Revival, Poynette Festival
Years active
Founded by
Peter 'Bobo' Obranovich, Bob Pulling & Sandy Nelson

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Festival was originally to be held at Aquarian Express Farm in Madison.