It was 50 years ago this coming June that people from all over gathered together for the first commercial American rock festival and the cornerstone event marking the Summer of Love. The Monterey Pop Festival has been credited for changing music history and later becoming the inspiration for subsequent music festivals including the iconic Woodstock Music Festival just two years later.
Now, 50 years later, Monterey is expecting to bring that energy back to the peninsula by celebrating the Summer of Love with several special events, including musical performances and art exhibits.
Organizers are planning the main celebration for the weekend of June 16-18, 2017, exactly 50 years to the day from the original Monterey Pop Festival. The 50th anniversary celebration will be held at the original venue, the Monterey County Fairgrounds, and is expected to draw about 11,000 attendees per day.
"I hope this year has the same attitude that was there 50 years ago. We want the anniversary to be a joyful time," says John McCleary of the Monterey History and Art Association Board of Directors. "It will be an international event. People from all over love our music."
McCleary was among the attendees who experienced the Monterey Pop Festival 50 years ago, and he has continued to be involved in recognizing the Monterey Pop Festival over the years as well as in the planning process for this upcoming summer.
Most of the celebratory events will be happening May through September of 2017 with the intent of honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival all summer long. However, the Feeling Groovy exhibit at the Monterey Regional Airport is the first of several exhibits recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival. It officially opened to the public this December. Exhibit visitors will journey back to the 1960's with collections that reflect music, entertainment and home life in Monterey Country during the 60's including items that will make you journey back to that iconic weekend in June of 1967.
"Everything you have ever heard about it was true. Jimi Hendrix was outstanding and so powerful. I have never seen anything like that. Janis Joplin was simply amazing and Otis Redding's energy was explosive. It was a really big deal," photographer Tom G. O'Neal recalls his experience at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967.
For more information on the Summer of Love 2017 and events, visit SeeMonterey.com/SummerofLove.