Woodstock 50 organisers: “If it doesn’t work this year, it doesn’t work this year”

Festival has been dogged by problems

Organisers of Woodstock 50, the 50th anniversary commemoration of the iconic 1969 festival, have admitted that the event might not go ahead this year.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with the town planning committee in New York, Michael Lang, co-creator of the original Woodstock festival and the lead organiser of Woodstock 50, said he remains optimistic but said it may not happen in 2019.

He told the Poughkeepsie Journal: “If it doesn’t work this year, it doesn’t work this year. We’ve tried everything we can. We’ve done our best. We’ll continue to do our best until we find out one way or the other whether it’s going to happen.”

Organisers recently applied for a permit to hold the event at Vernon Downs in upstate New York, east of Syracuse. The site features a ‘racino’ – a combined racing track and casino – as well as a hotel and a horse racing track.

But the event which will feature three day-long concerts with no camping – rather than one single-weekend festival – was recently denied a permit. The initial venue for Woodstock 50, Watkins Glen International raceway, pulled out of the festival in May.

Co-organiser Richard Peck said the pair are “determined to host a great, iconic festival,” adding that the recent concerns stated by the town’s codes committee are being addressed. He also said overtime costs for State Police and transportation officials will be paid by the festival.

Despite his assurances, Oneida County Administrator Anthony Picente Jr., previously said: “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. As someone who was here for 1999 [Woodstock], some names have changed but it’s largely the same situation.”

Woodstock 50 has suffered a series of blows in the months leading up to the festival. In April, it lost its primary funding partner, Dentsu Aegis Network, and one of its headliners, The Black Keys.

Although cancellation rumours were rife, the festival managed to secure a new investor in Oppenheimer & Co., and Lang insisted that Woodstock 50 would still go ahead.

Woodstock 50 is due to take place from August 16 to 18. Its line-up features The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Santana, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons and Halsey.