Woodstock 50: New Location Permit Denied

  • Axl Rosenberg

The organizers of Woodstock 50 should just go ahead and change the name of the event to Woodstock Fucked. Just kidding, there’s no need to change the name, this shit is not happening.

The perpetually plagued festival has already lost at least one major financial backer and two event producers, as well as its original venue, the Watkins Glen International raceway, which cancelled its contract with the fest last month. Now Variety reports that organizers have been denied a permit to stage the event at Vernon Downs, near Utica, NY.

Promoters will appeal the decision, which they claim, in a statement, is politically-motivated:

“In response to the denial of an event permit by the Town of Vernon, Woodstock 50 believes certain political forces may be working against the resurrection of the Festival. Local reports claim Woodstock’s filing for the permit was ‘incomplete’ but that is not the case. Woodstock 50 officials were informed by the Town of Vernon that most questions had been answered and asked only that Woodstock submit medical, safety/security and traffic plans by this past Sunday, which it did. With a venue chosen, financing assembled and many of the artist’s supporting Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary event, the organizers are hopeful that their appeal and reapplication tonight will prevail without further political interference.”

But Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. tells the trade paper that “what [festival organizers] have submitted to date has not met many of the requirements” to stage the event at Vernon Downs, and it is “highly unlikely” that the festival will ultimately take place in Oneida County. Picente goes on to add “We could have done this with a year or 16 months advance [planning], but to do it in three to six weeks is really a near impossibility from a public safety and health standpoint,” expressing concerns that Woodstock 50 could be a repeat of Woodstock ’99, which was notoriously plagued by crowd violence and destruction of property.

Truth be told, Vernon Downs was never a great choice for the festival to begin with — it’s a hotel, casino, and racetrack that doesn’t have camping grounds. This means that a crowd of approximately 65,000 attendees would need to vacate the grounds at the end of each of the festival’s three days, which sounds like a goddamn nightmare.

That the organizers of Woodstock 50 haven’t thrown their hands in the air and given up is almost admirable — Woodstock 50 is scheduled to begin on August 16, just five weeks from now, and tickets aren’t even on sale yet. Then again, with pricey non-refundable deposits almost certainly having been paid to the big name performers who are supposed to be on the bill, it’s easy to understand why the promoters wouldn’t wanna just call off the event altogether, because moving forward is their only shot at making any of that money back.

I cannot for the life of me imagine Woodstock 50 will still occur, but if it does, it’s supposed to feature Robert Plant, Santana, the Killers, Grandson, Fever 333, Dead and Company, Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons, Imagine Dragons, Cage the Elephant, Pussy Riot, Gary Clark Jr. and Amigo the Devil, amongst others.

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