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Woodstock 50 again fails to secure licence for August event

By | Published on Wednesday 17 July 2019

Woodstock 50

The planning board of the town of Vernon in New York state has again ruled against the organisers of Woodstock 50. At a hearing yesterday, it declined to overturn a previous decision to refuse the event a licence to be staged at the town’s Vernon Downs casino and race track. Shortly afterwards a Virgin company that has been supporting the Woodstock team in recent weeks announced it had now stood down from the project.

Preparations for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the original Woodstock festival have proven dramatic, of course. Along the way the event has lost a financial backer, a production partner and a venue. Which is why organisers have been seeking very late-in-the-day approval from the town of Vernon to move the festival to the Vernon Downs site.

Officials in the town first turned down Woodstock 50’s licence application last week. Speaking to local media, an attorney representing the town council said that not only was the licence application submitted way past the usual deadline for securing permission for events of this size, but it didn’t even deal with all of the local authorities’ concerns.

The biggest of which was what 80,000 audience members would do at the end of each day of the festival, given Vernon Downs couldn’t accommodate a camp site.

The Woodstock company has now appealed that ruling twice. After the planning board again ruled against them yesterday, it told reporters: “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”.

It went on: “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”.

Throughout most of the dramas that have occurred so far, the Woodstock team – and especially its highest profile member Michael Lang – have remained bullish that the 50th anniversary event would still go ahead from 16 to 18 Aug. Though this week their comments have seemed less confident. That said, they are yet to formally cancel the event and there was talk yesterday of a further appeal in Vernon.

But either way, a Virgin business which has been advising the Woodstock company in recent weeks – following the loss of its backer, production partner and venue – has confirmed it is no longer involved in trying to rescue the August festival.

A spokesperson for Virgin Produced said: “Given that the attempt to secure permits with the town of Vernon, NY and related state agencies has been finally denied, Virgin Produced has concluded its advisory mandate and terminated its services agreement. Virgin Produced, and its CEO Jason Felts, wish Woodstock all the best in its future endeavours”.

The there mentioned Felts then said in a statement: “Woodstock will always be remembered as an iconic moment in history. 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. It is imperative to us to produce an event at the highest level; in which all artists and consumers deserve. Without a venue and related permits secured, there is simply no time left to do so”.

We now await confirmation on the Woodstock company’s next move.