Following the rejection last Tuesday (16th) of a third appeal to hold the event at Vernon Downs, Woodstock 50 has provided a new statement regarding its status. According to Pitchfork, an event spokesperson said that organizers are “considering all options” for putting on Woodstock 50.
“Woodstock 50 is disappointed that the Town of Vernon has passed up the opportunity to hold the historic 50th Anniversary Festival by denying our robust and thoughtful proposal,” reads the statement from unnamed festival representatives:
“We regret that those in Vernon who supported Woodstock have been deprived of the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of the rebirth of a cultural peace movement that changed the world in 1969 and is what the world needs now. We want to thank the artists who stood by us. We are grateful for the support of Vernon Downs and its generous owner Jeffrey Gural.”
Woodstock 50 also isn’t giving up on Vernon Downs. It was reported Wednesday (17th) that organizers filed a third application to hold the event at the venue. According to Town of Vernon Attorney Vincent Rossi in a statement to the Utica Observer-Dispatch, “the codes office will evaluate the new application ‘as soon as possible.’”
Festival organizers have typically remained positive about the event, despite all the pitfalls they have had along the way. Announcing the festival in January (only eight months before its intended start date), Woodstock 50 started hitting snags in April when the New York State Department of Health had not yet granted them a mass gathering permit and therefore prevented tickets from going on sale. Days later, financial backer Dentsu Aegis pulled their funding for the event, attempting to shut it down without telling its producers and withdrawing $17 million in funds from a festival account. That led to lawsuit on top of lawsuit to try to get that money back and prove the festival could not legally be cancelled without the organizer’s consent. Dentsu’s departure was followed by the departure of event producer Superfly. In June, the event lost its original venue, Watkins Glen International, following a statement claiming that the racetrack never received their final $150,000 payment. On top of that another event producer, CID Entertainment, also pulled out. The permit rejection for Vernon Downs by the town’s planning board was the latest blow, citing that with less than a month to go there just isn’t enough time to put on a safe festival.
Even with producer Michael Lang’s gung-ho attitude, many are questioning whether Woodstock 50 will happen at all. In a recent interview about his upcoming Woodstock film, Crosby, Stills and Nash singer David Crosby, an original Woodstock artist and scheduled returnee for 2019, flat out said that “it’s not happening” and “it’s dead.” He continues, “There is a person in that situation who is a scammer and has always been a scammer, and he scammed this.” Oneida County executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. sees it from a logistics standpoint, saying:
“From the beginning, which for us was only a couple weeks back, I saw it was very unlikely this could be pulled off in such a short time frame. This is not something you throw together in six weeks, when you’ve got to consider traffic, parking, camping, health. Right now, honestly, I’d say there’s a 99.9 percent chance this won’t happen.”
If it does happen, Woodstock 50 will take place from August 16-18. The line-up includes sets from Jay-Z, Dead & Company, The Killers, Santana, Robert Plant, The Raconteurs, Brandi Carlile, Cage the Elephant and many more.