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Woodstock 50 Organizers Are Optimistic but Vague Before Town Meeting

Woodstock co-producer and co-founder, Michael Lang,
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Woodstock organizers Michael Lang and Richard Peck were optimistic but vague when speaking with reporters at a hastily announced open house for the festival held in Vernon, New York on Monday night.

The town’s Vernon Downs is the most recent proposed site for the trouble festival, which has been dogged by financial and organizational problems since it was announced in January. The open house was held in advance of a town meeting that will determine whether or not the festival’s permit application for the site will be approved. It has already been rejected by the town codes committee twice and been appealed by the festival’s organizers; the town’s planning committee is expected to render a decision tonight.

The organizers’ plan features three day-long concerts — rather than one single-weekend festivals — that will see attendees bussed in from parking lots on nearby Routes 5 and 31, according to WUTR-TV. Camping is not part of the plan.

Asked when tickets might go on sale, Lang told WUTR, “If everything goes well, very soon.” Asked whether any performers had pulled out, “At this point, nobody’s backed out because everybody’s been paid,” he said. As previously reported, the performers were paid in advance, with the money being held in escrow until the festival takes place.

Asked what will happen if the festival’s appeal is rejected, “If we don’t get the decision we want, it’s something that we will then have to consider,” Lang 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.”

Asked by the paper how the festival had gotten to such a disorganized state so late in the game, Lang responded, “You pretty much know how we got here!,” he said with a rueful laugh. “We unfortunately chose the wrong partner.”

“We’re determined to host a great, iconic festival,” Peck said, adding that the considerable 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.

The festival, which is scheduled to feature a blockbuster lineup including Jay-Z, Dead & Co., Miley Cyrus and many others, has been plagued by organizational and financial difficulties since it was announced: The original financial backer, Dentsu Aegis, pulled out in May; Watkins Glen International speedway, followed last month.