Organizers for Woodstock 50 say they are planning to file an appeal after the anniversary festival was denied a permit for its latest venue location in the town of Vernon, New York. On Tuesday (July 9), a Vernon code enforcement officer denied an application for the festival to hold its event at a casino and horse track site called Vernon Downs, saying the application was incomplete and filed too late.
A source close to the festival tells Billboard Woodstock 50 has five days to appeal the denial and plans to file that appeal Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, saying the city has mischaratcherized its reasoning for denying the application.
Billboard has also learned organizers have reduced the festival’s estimated attendance from 65,000 to 35,000 attendees due to the limited time they will have to sell passes.
The efforts to keep the troubled festival afloat are being led by Woodstock 50’s original investor Greg Peck, co-founder Michael Lang and KAABOO producer Jason Felts with his team at Virgin Produced, who were brought on as consultants. According to a source, Woodstock 50 organizers have also recruited new advisors to work on traffic plans, safety and security, and specialists in talent relations.
Tuesday’s permit denial follows a Vernon town board meeting Monday night where a reported crowd of roughly 100 people discussed the festival’s relocation to the mostly rural town.
“It is impossible to ensure the safety of the public at this point,” Oneida County sheriff Robert Maciol told the crowd, according to local news outlet Syracuse.com. “If you’re asking me right now, I’m not confident in saying the public will be safe.”
Syracuse.com reports police, emergency managers and ambulance company owners argued an event the size of Woodstock would need closer to a year to plan, with the festival’s application filed June 18 only offering a sliver of that time.
“Any emergency management director will say there isn’t enough time to do this properly,” said Oneida County emergency management director Kevin Revere at the meeting. “The less time you have to plan this stuff, the margin of error goes up tremendously.”
The festival plans to dispute that it submitted the application too late for the three-day concert slated for Aug. 16-18 and says all documents will be ready to go when the appeal is filed.
The festival’s attempt to relocate to Vernon Downs comes after Woodstock 50’s original venue, Watkins Glen International, rescinded the event’s permit application on June 10 with less than 70 days to go. That followed a number of setbacks for the festival, which started in late April when its investor Dentsu pulled out from the festival and then Lang and Peck lost a string of court hearings aimed at retaining the financer’s promised funds.
Many agents with bands on the bill — all who have already been paid in full — quietly tell Billboard that each day that goes by without tickets on sale hurts chances that the producers will manage to pull off the event.