Woodstock 50 was dealt yet another blow on Tuesday (9th) when their event permit for Vernon Downs was rejected by Oneida County. Oneida County ExecutiveAnthony Picente Jr. told Variety that the event’s application for the venue came too late and that “what they have submitted to date has not met many of the requirements” to put on the festival.
Picente chalks it up to time:
“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.”
Picente fears that the festival could be a repeat of the failed 1999 30th anniversary event, which ended in violence and fires:
“As someone who [w]as here for 1999, some names have changed but it’s largely the same situation.”
The same sentiment was echoed during a Vernon town board meeting. Oneida County Head of Emergency Services Kevin Revere called Woodstock 50 a “recipe for disaster.” Said Sheriff Rob Maciol during a board meeting Tuesday:
“The festival should take place in August 2020, not 2019. No matter how good the plan looks on paper, to implement this plan in 39 days, is impossible to ensure the safety of the public.”
The promotors of the festival plan to appeal this decision, claiming that “certain political forces may be working against the resurrection of the Festival.” According to an unnamed Woodstock 50 representative:
“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.”
Greg Peck, president of Woodstock 50, LLC later responded to the denial with a little more tact, saying:
“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.”
This isn’t the first obstacle the festival has faced over the last few months. In May, original backer Dentsu Aegis pulled out of the event, claiming to have cancelled it without telling the promotors and leading to months of legal issues. In that same week, production partner Superfly also pulled out. Last month, Woodstock 50 lost their original venue, Watkins Glen International Speedway, having failed to make their final $150,000 payment, as well as another production partner, CID Entertainment.
If it happens, Woodstock 50 is supposed to take place on August 16-18. Artists scheduled to perform include Jay-Z, The Killers, Santana, Robert Plant, Fever 333, Dead & Company, Portugal. The Man, Cage The Elephant, The Zombies, Canned Heat, The Raconteurs and more. Tickets are still not on sale.
Meanwhile, the event page appears to be hopeful that they will soon receive permit approval: