BETHEL — For 14 years, Hunter Mountain in Greene County was home to Mountain Jam, but this year the festival has a new home in the Catskills.
Campers flocked to the hallowed grounds of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Sullivan County on Thursday for the start of the annual music festival.
Kevin Reeves and his wife, Tanya, drove more than 10 hours from Charlotte, N.C., to get to Mountain Jam.
It's their first time coming to the festival, and part of what enticed them to come was a desire to see where Woodstock happened 50 years ago.
"We just thought the feel would be awesome, the vibe," Kevin Reeves said.
The couple has been to other festivals similar to Mountain Jam and said they love the community atmosphere and everyone coming together to enjoy music.
Kevin Reeves' son works in New York City and will drive to Bethel on Saturday to join him.
"It'll be a Father's Day with great music and sons," Kevin Reeves said.
Mountain Jam is expected to draw about 40,000 people over four days, with 40 bands on three stages, including headliners Willie Nelson & Family, Gov’t Mule and Toots and the Maytals.
It also features a Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the site, the music, and the mountains. There will also be yoga programs each morning, with a special class held by Michael Franti on Sunday. The Museum at Bethel Woods is open exclusively for festival-goers, with free admission.
Part of the allure of moving Mountain Jam to Bethel Woods was because it was able to offer a wider variety of comfortable camping options: car-camping; glamping; and an RV village.
For Carlos Argintina, of Woodstock, Conn., it's his fifth year coming to Mountain Jam.
"I loved it at Hunter Mountain," he said.
He's looking forward to seeing how it turns out at Bethel Woods.
Like Kevin and Tanya Reeves, Argintina praised the camaraderie of the folks who attend festivals like Mountain Jam.
"You often run into people you've seen before and it's like a family reunion," Argintina said.