The latest update in the dramatic saga that Woodstock 50 has become is the denial of a permit to hold the festival at Vernon Downs casino and raceway in Vernon, NY, where the the event’s organizers had planned to move it to after the original site in Watkins Glen fell through.
Promoter Michael Lang—who has been the face of Woodstock 50 and was involved in the creation of the original legendary festival in 1960—and his team opted to apply for a temporary event permit at Vernon Downs for a festival that would not include camping and would have a much smaller attendance than originally touted when they first announced their plan (35,000 instead of 80,000).
Variety reports that the permit application submitted by the Woodstock 50 team was not sufficient, nor was it submitted with the required time left before the event took place (Woodstock 50 is supposed to take place Aug. 16–18). “It’s been chaotic,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. tells Variety, also calling the possibility of Woodstock happening at Vernon Downs “a near impossibility” and comparing the fiasco to the infamous Woodstock 99 event.
For their part, Woodstock 50’s organizers released a statement after the permit denial, saying that they suspected that “certain political forces may be working against the resurrection of the Festival.”
Today, Billboard added to the conversation, reporting that sources claim that the Woodstock 50 team had actually begun to turn the tide of lackluster planning, having reportedly secured 25 acts from the original lineup to commit to the newly planned location and begun conversations with local law enforcement. Then came a public forum on Monday—during which Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol stated, ““If you’re asking me right now, I’m not confident in saying the public will be safe”—and the subsequent permit denial.
Though Woodstock 50 will re-submit an application and appeal to the county, the future of the festival is very much up in the air. Woodstock 50 LLC president Greg Peck released the following statement following the permit denial:
“We understand the public safety and traffic concerns of the local community. We have been working diligently over the last several weeks to secure the permits needed to hold the festival, and will continue to work with Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officials to present a cohesive safety and traffic plan that will be satisfactory in addressing the concerns. We appreciate the honest feedback from the Town of Vernon and will continue to address their comments as we enter the final planning phases for Woodstock 50. We are confident that this careful planning and consideration of community concerns will result in a safe, world-class Festival.’’
Stay tuned for more information on Woodstock 50 as it becomes available.