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Get ready to party: Interview with Jeryl Abramson Howard of Yasgur's Farm

Yasgur's Farm will hold the Yasgur Road Phish After Party
Yasgur's Farm will hold the Yasgur Road Phish After Party
Yasgur's Farm Productions

Yasgur’s Farm is the original site of Woodstock, probably the most famous festival of the hippie era taking place in 1969 with acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. It will be the home for thousands of Phish phans beginning the Thursday before Memorial Day.

Yasgur's Farm is considered sacred ground to many, and for Memorial Day Weekend it will be rocking again for a full weekend of music, vending and partying.

Jeryl Abramson Howard and her husband Roy own Yasgur's Farm and Jeryl had a chance to tell us a little about what we can expect. All indications lead to this being a huge kickoff for Phish tour, and she is making sure that this is a weekend phans will never forget… even though it may be a little hazy at times.

Q and A with Bobby Martin and Jeryl Abramson Howard:

BOBBY: Tell me about Yasgur's Farm. What are some cool things that will be going on that weekend?

JERYL: Other then Phish being a very cool thing, we're going to have lots of music including The Heavy Pets, Miz, Viral Sound, Somata, Stereo Zoo, George Wesley and a few surprises.

BOBBY: How have past experiences at Yasgur's helped you prepare for Memorial Day Weekend? Clearly you are no stranger to some hippie type gatherings.

JERYL: We had most of our infrastructure in place from 2006. We were very lucky that our past contacts in the industry, and the wonderful vibe that Phish is bringing, pulled this event together as easily as it did.

BOBBY: Are you related to Max Yasgur? And were you at Woodstock? If so, describe that experience in a few words.

JERYL: Not related to Max Yasgur. I never had the pleasure of meeting him. I have met Mrs. Yasgur. She's a lovely lady. I was in Bethel during Woodstock but I never got to the stage. I had just turned 15 the week before Woodstock so I was a little young for the full experience. My mother wanted me home by dark. Can you imagine? If she only knew then what I know now about how Woodstock would impact my life.

BOBBY: What sort of process did you have to go through with the town of Bethel to get this going? Permitting etc.

JERYL: Seven years ago the town put us through Hell to get a permit and then denied it to us due to our inability to meet their criteria and conditions. This year, 7 years later, they basically handed us the permit without a question.

Roy and I have Phish to thank for that. It seems we're back by a combination of necessity on the part of the town, who had to face the fact that Bethel can't handle this many people without a little help, and popular demand from phans who remembered us from years ago. We are so grateful to those who are coming back after all this time.

BOBBY: Do you anticipate paying fines?

JERYL: Like I anticipate root canal. It's not something I look forward to but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I can't anticipate what nature or the government will do.

BOBBY: If you reach a maximum capacity for camping and parking, will you be letting people in to see the live acts?

JERYL: How can we? When we reach capacity we're full. We can't admit anyone else. We try not to turn anyone away, but if we have no room, we have no choice.

BOBBY: What types of vendors will be at the farm?

JERYL: We have food and merchandise vendors. The usual array of pizza, falafel, chicken wraps, tee shirts, jewelry, arts and crafts.

BOBBY: When can people start showing up to the farm? When must they be out by?

JERYL: We're opening on Thursday, May 26. The weekend is over on Monday, May 30. We're not real big on clocks. We don't say we open at noon. We live there. If you show up at 10 am and we're home, as we expect to be, we're not going to turn you away. That would be rude. We also don't tell people when they have to be out by. It's not like we have to change the linen for the next guest. They leave when they're ready.

BOBBY: Will there be an active police presence, or will there be hired security?

JERYL: Both. We have contracted the services of a professional peace patrol. We don't know for sure what the police will do. That's their business. From past experience, there will be a strong police presence in the area but they will not come onto our property unless we call them for assistance.

Usually, the State Police Captain and/or the County Sheriff will call us a few days before the weekend to ask if we need anything and coordinate with our security personnel. I don't know the current State Police Captain in our area but the County Sheriff is a great guy. We don't anticipate any problems with law enforcement. I'm sure we'll all cooperate.

BOBBY: Will there be shuttles set up going from Yasgur's to Bethel Woods? If one were to walk, how long is it?

JERYL: We decided against shuttles because #1- We're so close it's easier to walk, and #2 - They wanted a lot of money. It's about 1.5 miles to walk. There is a short cut through one of Bethel Woods back parking lots. We'll have directions for the Phans regarding the safest, shortest routes.

BOBBY: How were bands chosen? Was it really based on phan recommendations?

JERYL: It was. Of course, we took phan recommendations very seriously. This is not our event, this event belongs to the people who are coming here. As I was getting the submissions, I realized that the bands were coming from three different places. I started looking at the demographics (not to sound corporate or anything) of where people were coming from and what they wanted.

We found that the interest was for a combination of the Northeast jam bands, the Pennsylvania bands, being 10 miles from the northeastern border of Pa we found we had a huge audience coming from that region who followed some amazing music, and the Woodstock bands- a very talented group of artists that have been a part of what we do since our inception.

Luckily, we had a lot of help from inside the industry to get these bands together on such short notice on a holiday weekend as the festival season opens.

BOBBY: What are you looking forward to the most about the Memorial Day Weekend festivities?

JERYL: Are you kidding? EVERYTHING! I am so STOKED!!! (I'm even learning to speak Phish.) I can't wait to welcome everyone home to Yasgur's Pharm.

BOBBY: Thanks Jeryl! By the way, do you like/know Phish? If not, you should check out a video of Yemteca... It's epic.

JERYL: I don't know Phish's music. I have watched a video recently. Maybe after the event is over I'll have some time to enjoy their sound. Right now I'm listening to the bands that will be on our stage.

For more information about Yagur Road Phish After Party, check out their Facebook page.

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