2018 marks the 50th anniversary of a historic music festival remembered as much for its unpredictably large crowds, last minute venue changes, food and water shortages, challenging weather, and mud-loving concertgoers as it is for its lineup of legends like Eric Burden, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane.
No, not that festival.
We’re talking about the Newport Pop Festival, held right here on the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa August 3-4, 1968.
While it’s largely forgotten now, the Newport Pop Festival is arguably one of the most significant events in Costa Mesa cultural history. It is believed to be the first ever pop concert with more than 100,000 paying attendees (total attendance is estimated at 140,000) and it provided an important link between 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival and 1969’s Woodstock, presciently foreshadowing what was to come the following year.
To learn more about this important part of our cultural history, visit the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum’s exhibit box on the Newport Pop Festival, on display every Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.