It’s been more than a month since the team behind the Woodstock 50 festival lost its original venue. Since then, the team has been searching meticulously for a new site for the highly anticipated golden jubilee anniversary gig.
During that month, Vernon Downs, a hotel and horse-racing track in Oneida County, near Utica, N.Y., became one of the main contenders for a new venue.
Last week, however, two consecutive applications, filed by festival co-founder Michael Lang, were rejected by the Vernon township. The applications sought approval for permits that would allow Lang’s team to host the three-day festival at the newly proposed site.
As a result, Lang, 74, was expected to appeal the township’s decision in a town hall meeting — which he did, on July 16.
Unfortunately for the Woodstock 50 team, their proposal was denied, according to Variety, potentially marking the end of the parties’ working relationship.
Following the unsuccessful meeting, Woodstock 50 shared an official statement with Variety. It read:
“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. 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.”
Although the festival organizers have not given up yet, their final remarks suggest it could be the end of the road for the troubled event.
“We want to thank the artists who stood by us,” they continued. “We are grateful for the support of Vernon Downs and its generous owner Jeffrey Gural.”
Woodstock Music Festival co-producer Michael Lang is interviewed during a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock at the at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC on Aug. 13, 2009, in New York City.
When asked after the meeting if Vernon’s decision marked the end of Woodstock 50, Lang told the Poughkeepsie Journal: “I don’t know… We need to regroup and figure it out.”
“I knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” he continued. “I knew that the town supervisor, frankly, was really behind this position. We just hoped there was a sense of fairness that these people would be adhering to and [that] doesn’t seem to be the case.”
The verdict also prompted Virgin Produced, a key festival partner, to drop out of Woodstock 50.
“[Virgin Produced] has officially concluded its consulting role with respect to the company and the proposed festival,” CEO Jason Felts announced to Variety.
“Despite our formidable effort to assist Michael Lang and the Woodstock 50 ownership in resurrecting their NY festival, it has become apparent that time has expired.”
The organizers of the festival plan to reapply for new venue permits on Wednesday morning, according to Billboard.
Before the town hall meeting, Lang remained positive.
“If it doesn’t work this year, it doesn’t work this year,” he told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “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.”
Global News has reached out to representatives from Woodstock 50 and Vernon Downs seeking comment.
No official announcements have been made regarding a cancellation of Woodstock 50.
With no recent developments, it’s unclear when — or if — tickets for the festival will actually go on sale.
Woodstock 50 is still scheduled to take place from Aug. 16 to 18.
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