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The Strawberry Fields Festival was a rock music festival held at Mosport Parkmarker raceway in Bowmanville, Ontariomarker Canada, about 100 kilometers east of Toronto, between August 7 and the early morning hours of August 10, 1970. Although accounts vary, the audience has been estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 people. A three day tickets for the festival sold for $15.00.

Connection to Toronto Peace Festival

John Brower along with John Lennon and Yoko Ono had originally planned to host the "Toronto Peace Festival" at Mosport Park in July 1970 but they ran into numerous roadblocks and their plans were dashed when their application for the necessary permits were denied. In de-classified documents released in 2007 it was revealed in an RCMP report dated Dec. 30, 1969 that the Canadian security service began spying on ex-Beatle John and Yoko after they announced their plans for the Peace Festival..

Selection of the Venue and Promotion of the Festival

Without John and Yoko, Brower moved forward with plans to host a festival in Monctonmarker, New Brunswick, named the "Strawberry Fields Festival". Again, local politicians intervened and revoked various permits so Brower shifted the location back to Mosport Park in Ontario only this time he thinly disguised the event as a championship motorcyle race featuring "some contemporary entertainment". The festival was advertised in Canada as the “First Annual Strawberry Cup Trophy Race”. To avoid public and political scrutiny, the musical entertainment aspect of the event was downplayed in advertisements and the festival was not promoted heavily in Canada.

When it was discovered that the primary focus of the event was not motor cycle racing but instead, a rock music festival, the Attorney General of Ontario, Arthur Wishart, filed for an injunction to stop the festival from taking place citing health and public safety concerns. On August 6th, with only hours to go before the opening act was scheduled to take the stage, Supreme Court Justice D. A. Keith refused to grant the injunction and the festival was allowed to proceed.

Unlike in Canada, the "Stawberry Fields Festival" was promoted heavily in the U.S. as a three day rock music festival with the slogan, “Love, Sun and Sound”. As a result, a large percentage of the attendees were from the American north east. Others travelled from as far away as California and Florida. In the end, the sanctioning body for the racing series withdrew its drivers from the event so an actual race never occurred although an obligatory lap by a few motor cyclist did occur in order to comply with the local ordinance.

The Strawberry Fields Festival was promoted by John Brower and produced by Les Productions Sportive Ville-Marie Inc..

Border Troubles

Several thousand more young American music fans were turned back at the Canadian border when they were unable to provide proof they had sufficient funds to look after themselves while visiting Canada or they were unable to produce adequate identification. One person who was turned away at the Canadian border crossing at Prescott, Ontariomarker, drowned while attempting to swim into Canada across the St. Lawrence Rivermarker near Watertownmarker, New York. Several arrests related to the attempted importation of narcotics and banned substances were made.

The Park

Mosport is a 500 acre auto racing venue. Strawberry Fields was the second of three major music festivals held at Mosport Parkmarker Raceway, between 1970 and 1980. The other two were Canada Jam held August 26, 1978 and the punk and new wave themed, Heatwave Festival held August 23, 1980.

The Performers

Strawberry Festival acts included – (not in order of appearance)



Led Zeppelin was booked to play the festival. The bands' name appears on posters and flyers promoting the event however they failed to show. The festival concluded at 5:30 AM on Monday August 10 with a performance by Woodstock alumni, Sly & the Family Stone. Other performers who also appeared at the 1969 Woodstockmarker Festival in Bethelmarker, New York included; Melanie, Ten Years After and Mountain.

References




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