Arlene Falcon has lots to celebrate this summer, and Woodstock plays a part in almost all of it.
This year marks the 20th year the owner of Tye Dye Everything in downtown Moscow has operated her store on South Main Street behind Mikey’s Gyros.
It’s also the 30th year she has sold tie-dye clothing — the first time was at a Spokane event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the historic 1969 music festival.
And this weekend, she will be selling her tie-dye products about 1 mile from the Woodstock site in Bethel, N.Y., as part of a 50th anniversary celebration of Woodstock.
Falcon, 64, did not attend Woodstock, but she was at a summer camp 30 minutes away on the same weekend of the generation-defining festival 50 years ago. She said she plans to attend a reunion at the camp this weekend.
“Some people from the camp went, but I was just 14,” Falcon said.
One of those people was a custodian at the camp, who returned to tell stories about it, she said.
Falcon said there were big concerts at that time but no one expected roughly a half million people to descend upon Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in rural New York.
“People had no idea what it was going to be and I think it surprised everybody,” she said.
Besides stories from those who attended that weekend, Falcon said she and the other campers did not hear much about Woodstock that weekend.
While the festival is known for its music and heavy drug use, the muddy conditions from heavy rainfall is another popular part of the story.
Falcon was close enough to the festival to experience the same rainstorm.
“It rained so much the roads split,” she said. “And there was a big giant mud puddle in front of the bunks and stuff and people were mud fighting, mud slingin’, mud sliding. There was a lot of rain and a lot of mud.”
Falcon said she caught the tie-dye bug in 1987 when she and her husband at the time bought tie-dye shirts for their children at a Grateful Dead concert. She said her husband told her they should start making tie-dye shirts, but Falcon was not sold.
“He went and got some dyes and we started tie-dyeing, and everyone loved them,” she said.
The first time she and her husband sold them was Aug. 13, 1989, at “Woodstock in the Park” at Riverfront Park in Spokane. After selling all their clothing at the event, Falcon envisioned a possible career in tie-dyeing.
She said she and her family moved from Santa, Idaho, to St. Maries in the early 1990s, where they continued to sell tie-dye clothes.
Falcon started her tie-dye operation in Moscow at present-day Patty’s Mexican Kitchen on West Sixth Street in October 1998, then moved to her existing location in June 1999.
She said her downtown location is a great spot with a great vibe despite the tight quarters.
“Why change a good thing?” Falcon said. “No need to move because I just love it here and I love Moscow.”
Falcon said tie-dye clothing is mainstream now.
“You see tie-dye everywhere now,” Falcon said. “Every department store has mass-produced tie-dye.”
Falcon said she and her employees still do it “old school” at Tye Dye Everything, which means tie-dyeing each article of clothing individually. Fanny packs, which she said she purchases already tie-dyed, are the exception.
She said her favorite part about tie-dyeing is seeing what she created the day after tie-dyeing the clothes. After three decades of tie-dyeing, Falcon said it is still thrilling to see what the completed product looks like.
“There’s almost no mistakes in tie-dye,” she said. “I tell people tie-dye is forgiving.”
While nearing retirement age, Falcon has no plans of quitting the career she loves.
“If I do, I would just go on the road to sell tie-dyes,” she said laughing. “So I don’t see quite an end to this because I just have so much fun with it and lots of support all over the country.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.