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Woodstock 50 set to shift states as third possible venue is chosen

By | Published on Friday 26 July 2019

Woodstock 50

Good news everybody, Woodstock 50 has found a new venue. And it’s a mere four and half hours drive away from the original site. True, it can only accommodate 32,000 people, just over a fifth of the original capacity for the event, but with 21 days to go and no tickets as yet sold, a smaller bash is probably wise. The shift also means that the official celebrations of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary will be held in Maryland rather than New York state.

Plans to stage Woodstock 50 have been more entertaining than any actual festival that might now take place. Along the way organisers lost their financial backers, production partners and venue. A new site was quickly found, but it turned out that the deadline had already passed for getting a licence from the local town council. Officials considered the proposed event anyway, but raised a wide assortment of concerns, not least where the proposed 65,000 ticket-buyers were going to sleep, given the new site had no camp site.

The event will now take place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion venue in Columbia, Maryland. The plan to move not only venue but also state was first revealed by Bloomberg and then confirmed by organisers to the New York Times. Apparently an official from Howard County – in which Columbia sits – first proposed shifting the event there. With that support already in place, Team Woodstock approached Merriweather Post Pavilion operator IMP.

That company’s Chair, Seth Hurwitz, is quoted by Rolling Stone as saying: “Woodstock 50 approached Merriweather about hosting their event here in Columbia. The Woodstock folks are working on securing the artists now. If the bands come, we’ll produce the show. We’re looking forward to getting an update as soon as Woodstock 50 has one”.

That means the latest Woodstock 50 plan depends on enough of the artists originally booked for the festival agreeing to take part in this relocated, streamlined show. Although Team Woodstock have been somewhat vague of late regarding their ongoing conversations with the artists, they did, at one point, so that “many” of the acts were still supporting the festival.

At least one of the artists who played the original Woodstock in 1969 and who was due to return for the 50th – John Fogerty – has confirmed he will not be playing the Maryland show. It remains to be seen what the other bigger name artists say. Presumably the smaller new venue means organisers can accommodate fewer acts anyway.

Assuming they get enough artists on board for the revamped show to go ahead, apparently the plan is to reposition Woodstock 50 as a benefit show in aid of not-for-profit organisations devoted to improving voter turnout and tackling climate change.

Which isn’t too far removed from Woodstock 50’s original political agenda, though it does sound a little like organisers are trying to manage expectations somewhat, by promising a benefit concert rather than a full-on festival experience.

We now await confirmation about what will actually occur on 16, 17 and 18 Aug.