Woodstock 50 loses Watkins Glen event site, possible new venue in the works

Posted by on June 11, 2019

Woodstock 50 was dealt another existential blow with the announcement that Watkins Glen International Racetrack had terminated the event’s site license. Said the venue in a statement Monday:

“Watkins Glen International terminated the site license for Woodstock pursuant to provisions of the contract. As such, WGI will not be hosting the Woodstock 50 Festival.”

Tim O’Hearn, Administrator for Schuyler County, where Watkins Glen is located, expressed
disappointment at the news, though he wasn’t surprised. Said O’Hearn in a statement:

“[The announcement] comes as a major disappointment to us in that we looked forward to hosting this iconic event in our community. While today’s announcement is difficult to absorb, it is not completely unexpected, given the well-publicized delays related to this planned event. We commend Watkins Glen International for their actions, which we feel are in the overall best interest of the community.”

Woodstock 50, an event meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, has had its share of setbacks over the last couple of months. Trouble started when the festival missed its April 22 ticket on sale date, as it had yet to secure the necessary temporary mass-gathering permit that would allow for it to do so. Less than a week later, main investor Dentsu Aegis pulled out, taking with them $18 Million and attempting to cancel the event without telling organizers. That led to a series of lawsuits filed by organizer Michael Lang against Dentsu that are still ongoing. Two days after Dentsu’s exit, production company Superfly also decided to back out, leaving Woodstock 50
scrambling to find new investors and production. As it stands, Woodstock 50, now less than 70 days out from the festival date, still lacks the necessary New York State mass-gathering permit, as well as environmental, security, traffic plan and Department of Health approvals for it to proceed.

This latest issue is reminiscent of a similar situation the original Woodstock faced five decades ago. In that case, the event had lost its Orange County location just a month before it was supposed to take place. That brought them to Max Yasgur’s Woodstock farm in Sullivan County. And just like 50 years ago, organizers say that they may have found a new venue to hold the anniversary festival. Hours after Watkins Glen pulled out, principal organizer Gregory Peck made a statement, saying:

“We confirm that we will not be moving forward with Watkins Glen as a venue for Woodstock 50. We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on Aug. 16-18 and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks.”

If everything comes together, Woodstock 50 will take place August 16-18. Featuring a mix of original
Woodstock artists and today’s biggest performers, the line-up includes The Killers, Santana, Robert
Plant, Fever 333, Dead & Company, Chance The Rapper, Portugal. The Man, David Crosby, Country Joe
McDonald, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Cage The Elephant, The Zombies, Courtney Barnett, and many more.

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