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Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent.

After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of peace, love and music by stopping by an open house to meet the team and preview a proposal for a 50th Anniversary celebration” at the race track in advance of a town meeting to review the permit on Tuesday night. That meeting is open to the public.

The open house will take place at the Vernon Downs Casino Hotel at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday. “Refreshments will be served,” the invitation notes.

Woodstock 50 is seeking an administrative permit from the Town of Vernon to host the three-day festival, which is scheduled to feature Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Miley Cyrus and many others, at Vernon Downs on August 16-18.

While their permit was rejected twice in recent days by the town’s code office, those rejections can be overruled by the town planning board, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday night at 7 p.m. If the planning board also denies the permit application, Woodstock 50’s organizers could take the matter to court, although the usefulness of such action so close to the scheduled festival launch date is questionable. (Thanks to Ben Dennis of WUTR/WFXV in Utica, N.Y. for clarifying the process.)

The announcement says that “Woodstock 50 has assembled a world-class team of experts to help with the expedited schedule of the festival,” noting that consultants include Virgin Produced, the entertainment production arm of Richard Branson‘s Virgin Group.

The announcement also appealed to local residents with vague offers of work opportunities: “If permits are secured, Woodstock 50 could foresee hiring local residents to help with ticketing, security, logistical support, transportation, set up, break down and clean up,” it reads, and speculated about “establish[ing] a committee of local residents to identify and invite certain local vendors onto the site during the festival.”

It also held out the possibility of “holding annual Woodstock 50 events at Vernon Downs in the future.” Gural said he “is prepared” to make a contribution to local non-profit organizations from the proceeds of the festival, and organizers

In a statement, Greg Peck, a co-owner of Woodstock 50, acknowledged the significant challenges faced by the festival, which has been troubled by organizational and financial difficulties since it was announced in January: The original financial backer, Dentsu Aegis, pulled out in May; Watkins Glen International speedway, followed last month. One month before its scheduled launch, it has a confirmed lineup but no venue or ticket on-sale date, a situation almost unheard-of for a major festival since the original Woodstock some 50 years ago.

“The original Woodstock prevailed against all odds because of the determination of the founders and we hope that, with the help of the people of Vernon, history can repeat itself and turn Woodstock 50 into a great American comeback story,” said Greg Peck, co-owner of Woodstock 50.  “We purchased the rights from the founders to put on Woodstock 50 because of our belief in what the Festival stands for. We have put enormous care and thought into our security, safety, traffic and medical plan and are eager to show the officials and residents of Vernon that this Festival will be not only memorable and historic, but peaceful and safe for everyone involved.”

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for Vernon Downs and the Town of Vernon to be part of history,” said Gural, a real estate developer who also runs harness tracks at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey and Tioga Downs in southern New York. “We have long dreamed of hosting music festivals at Vernon Downs as a way of shoring up the long-term economic viability of the operation. Woodstock 50 would be the beginning of a tremendous legacy that would help secure jobs today and for future generations.”

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