Richie Havens was the first to take the stage that summer.
More than 40 years later, on July 1, Havens will take the stage in Reno, opening the largest arts event in northern Nevada, the 13th annual Artown celebration.
And while the month-long Reno arts festival has a starkly different feel than Woodstock’s aura of love, sex and rock ‘n’ roll, it will attract more than 350,000 people to Reno and Sparks along with 600 artists.
Touting the celebration’s economic ease, Artown producers said that more than 300 events would be free to the public.
After opening night, people from Reno, Sparks and beyond can attend movies in the park, children’s theater performances, concerts and more. A full events calendar is available online at http://calendar.renoisartown.com.
And while Woodstock may have attracted specifically the ’60s iconoclast, Artown executive director Beth Macmillan said she hopes this year’s lineup will attract people from all walks of life.
“(Artist) selection is an organic process,” Macmillan said. “We work with many agents and we look at what the trends are in our field. We see what voids need to be filled (considering) what we already have locally.”
What Macmillan has locally, as far as venue, has changed over the years — partially because of Artown.
“What happened is that community leaders decided to use arts and culture as an economic tool to bring the arts downtown,” Macmillan said of the event’s genesis. “It was not modeled after anything but used as an engine to make change.”
The first festival attracted 30,000 people with its $12,000 budget.
Now, performers take the stage at the new West Street Market, the old Bartley Ranch amphitheater, Reno’s city plaza, local casinos and other venues across Reno and Sparks.
The mostly Reno-based event has slowly leaked into Sparks over the years, but Macmillan said that in order to really take advantage of venues in Wingfield Springs, for example, the event needs more money.
Some events on the Artown calendar will be held at the Sparks Library, John Ascuaga’s Nugget or the Spark Heritage museum.
The event now costs about $1 million to put on, pulling much of its funding from grants and donations. The event left a $13.7 million economic impact footprint on northern Nevada in 2008, according to event producers.
From an opening night of hippy nostalgia to performances by the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra, Artown is promising a range of performances.
“My goal is to be fully inclusive, so that everyone is celebrated, so that every age demographic is served,” Macmillan said.