In 1969, more than 400,000 people flocked to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near Woodstock, New York for the concert that defined the 1960s. Two years later, when the organizers of the End of the Rainbow rock concert scouted out Roger Hartleb’s farm near Milford, they must have thought, why not New Hampshire? And while End of the Rainbow only drew about 5,000 spectators, the concert certainly did put Milford residents in touch with the emerging counterculture like nothing before.
On August 3, 1971, a small article ran in the Milford Cabinet informing locals of the Sunday concert at Hartleb’s farm just up the turnpike in New Boston. Many concertgoers were more than punctual. Despite warnings to avoid the farm before 6pm on Saturday night, many began to drift in days earlier. Carrying knapsacks, sleeping bags, guitars and maybe the occasional illegal substance, “the kids” came through the Oval and headed north – often by foot, motorcycle, or VW bus. Dotted with tents, the farm had soon become a “week-long camping center,” according to the Milford Cabinet. By the eve of the concert, the turnpike was jammed three miles out of Mont Vernon.
On Sunday morning, with temps headed toward 90 degrees, a hot air balloon kicked off the concert, rising above spectators spread out on blankets as music from the stage began to fill the air. The concert’s primary attraction, the Allman Brothers, had canceled (the Milford Cabinet revealed their lack of cool by calling them the “Almond Brothers”). But no matter, other bands like Grand Hill, Sweeney’s Glider and singer Joe English got everybody rocking.
A lack of bathrooms and parking were the primary complaints as the crowd overwhelmed the portable toilets and concert-goers started parking virtually anywhere along Route 13. Tow trucks were kept busy all weekend to the annoyance of many who returned to their car, only to find it missing.
But improvisation was in the air. One-dollar makeshift parking lots sprang up in the yards along the turnpike and a free kitchen was sponsored by Smiley’s Farm in Greenville. Meanwhile, young people boiled zucchini squash in trash cans and made bread using beer bottles as rolling pins and trash cans to cover charcoal. Of course, zucchini was not the only thing being passed around freely at the End of the Rainbow. A somewhat sensational photo ran on Page 5 of the Cabinet, showing a purported drug deal, as the paper commented that the cigarettes being passed around were “unlikely to be Salems or Virginia Slims.”
No doubt, but whether the concert was a peace-loving rock-in or a moral disgrace seemed to be largely in the eye of the beholder. While the conservative Manchester Union-Leader called the event “a drug and booze-filled atmosphere with many instances of open prostitution,” the Cabinet called it simply “a good time.”
Whatever it was, the bands kept playing until past two in the morning, certainly making it the night that Milford rocked.