Lewisville to Mark 50th Anniversary of Texas International Pop Festival

Later this summer, Lewisville will host a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Texas International Pop Festival. The event brought some of the biggest music acts of the day to Denton County in 1969.

As trains pass through the Hebron station in Lewisville, the only sign of what happened on the site 50 summers ago is a historical marker. In 1969, the site that now houses the train station and several luxury apartment buildings hosted what was, at the time, one of the largest outdoor music festivals ever, in North Texas.

Angus Wynne III was just 25-years-old when he helped bring the festival to Lewisville, after being approached by the promoters of a similar festival in Atlanta that summer. With just 40 days to pull it together, Wynne, a concert promoter, and his partners began to book acts for the event, held at the old Dallas International Motor Speedway.

"The fact was, this was a terrific show, all the acts were big names," said Wynne, now 75. "Hardly anyone nobody had heard of before. It sold itself, basically."

The Texas International Pop Festival included acts like B.B. King, Chicago Transit Authority (later known as Chicago), Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and others. The three-day event drew an estimated crowd between 120,000 and 150,000 people to Lewisville on Labor Day weekend, 1969.

"The politics of the day were involved. There was a lot of contention between certain groups of people," Wynne recalled. "To see that melt away during the festival was a blessing. It really worked well."

That summer was a big one for music festivals. Wynne had attended Woodstock, in upstate New York, two weeks earlier. Here in Texas, not everyone was on board.

"There was some pushback because the people in Lewisville were alarmed about the idea of thousands of hippies coming in on their territory and doing God knows what," Wynne said.

Despite that, and a scathing newspaper editorial opposing the show in The Dallas Morning News, the show went off with barely a hitch. Wynne admitted there were a certain amount of drugs present, but there was no violence reported. In essence, he said, it was a weekend of peace, love -- and music.

"To me, the best thing about these festivals was how people get along together when they're in a situation like that," he said.

At the end of August, Lewisville will host a concert marking the 50th anniversary of the Texas International Pop Festival. Chicago will return, as will Grand Funk Railroad, another band which played the first festival. ZZ Top will headline. The event will be held at Lake Lewisville Park.

Wynne said he hoped to re-capture some of that same spirit from the original.

"It wound up providing the best kind of environment I could imagine," he said. "It was wonderful out there. I'm hoping to conclude it that way."

Meanwhile, the Denton County Office of History and Culture is curating a pair of exhibits in August, commemorating the festival's 50th anniversary. They will include apparel, photographs, memorabilia and other items from the event. Exhibits will open Saturday, Aug. 17 at UNT on the Square in Denton, and Aug. 30 at MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville.

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