In 1972, you'd think that any music festival organizer would try to learn from the lessons of Woodstock. But Tom Duncan and Bob Alexander deliberately set out to stage an event bigger than Woodstock in southern Indiana on Labor Day weekend. The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Santana, the Allman Brothers, and Black Sabbath were booked. They expected 55,000 people.
But the people of Chandler, a tiny town in southern Indiana, were galled at the prospect of tens of thousands of unwashed ne’er-do-wells descending upon their bucolic utopia. Less than a week before the event, Mayor Russell Lloyd officially barred the festival from taking place within city limits. With flower children from all over the Midwest already arriving, the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival seemed doomed before it had even begun.
The courts, according to Marley Brant in Join Together: Forty Years of the Rock Music Festival, told Duncan and Alexander they couldn’t hold the festival in Indiana. So the men rushed to find a new venue, while acts like Rod Stewart and Black Sabbath began to cancel. The venue they found — a day before doors were scheduled to open — was Bull Island, a peninsula of swampy fields situated on either side of a changing bend in the Wabash River about 50 miles away. Although technically part of Illinois, it was only accessible through Indiana, making Bull Island a lawless wasteland.
A quarter million people showed up. That wasn't as many as attended Woodstock, but the festival certainly outdid Woodstock in bad planning and poor execution. Read what a mess the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival (better known now as the Bull Island Festival) became at Ozy.
(Image credit: University of Southern Indiana)