Founded in 1980, the festival was based on the earlier Wielkopolskie Rytmy Mlodych (Greater Poland’s Rhythms of the Youth), which had been organized in Jarocin since 1971. In 1980, due to Walter Chelstowski’s initiative, its name was changed to Ogolnopolski Przeglad Muzyki Mlodej Generacji w Jarocinie (All-Polish Review of Music of Young Generation in Jarocin) and subsequently, musicians and bands from the whole country were invited. Later on, its name was changed again - to Festiwal Muzykow Rockowych (Rock Musicians’ Festival).
Jarocin’s Festival was based in terms of its organization and atmosphere on the famous American Woodstock Festival, thus it is sometimes called the Polish Woodstock. In the 1980s it was regarded as an escape from the drab, poor reality of late-Communist Poland. It lasted 3 days, and was usually held at the beginning of August. The Festival attracted thousands of fans (e.g. in 1986 there were more than 30,000 of them), who lived in tents and came to listen to music which was otherwise hardly (or never) played on Polish radio or TV. Still, many believe that Jarocin was a designed by the Communist secret services, to create a "safe outlet" for the restless Polish youth.
A variety of music was played over the course of the festival, but generally speaking, "alternative" - blues, rock, heavy metal, punk rock, reggae were played. Bands played on two stages, with the bigger one located on the local soccer pitch. Many fans brought cassette players with them to record the music. This was one of the only chances to record and distribute music on cassettes that didn't appear in official mass-media.
Jarocin Festival lost its popularity in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Communist system in Poland. The new generation of festival-goers was also more aggressive, and in 1994, after riots and clashes with police, the festival was suspended. It resumed again in 2005.
Among most popular bands that played or debuted in Jarocin, there are:
- Brygada Kryzys
- Sztywny Pal Azji
- Acid Drinkers
- Koniec Świata
- New Model Army
- The Misfits
- Babayaga Ojo
- Feeling B
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jarocin Festival.|
- Official website (in Polish)
- Photos from 1986-1988 Festivals in Jarocin
- Footage of the streets of Jarocin during the 1985 Festival, with music by Moskwa