UPDATED: The beleaguered Woodstock 50 festival needs to find a new site: Watkins Glen International Raceway announced today in a statement that it has pulled out.
But lest anyone think that’s the final blow for the seemingly star-crossed festival, its indefatigable organizers have announced that Woodstock 50 will still proceed at a different locale, yet to be announced.
“We confirm that we will not be moving forward with Watkins Glen as a venue for Woodstock 50,” said Gregory Peck, identified as one of the festival’s principals, in a statement. “We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on August 16-18 and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks.”
The loss of the host site is not the only fresh major obstacle to moving forward. A source tells Variety that event producer CID Entertainment, which came on board after original producer Superfly pulled out late in April, has also withdrawn from the festival, leaving it without a site or a producer. Variety has reached out to CID for comment.
The news about the loss of venue first came in a terse statement issued Monday afternoon by the raceway’s management: “Watkins Glen International terminated the site license for Woodstock pursuant to provisions of the contract. As such, WGI will not be hosting the Woodstock 50 Festival.”
Reps for the raceway did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
Tim O’Hearn, administrator for Schuyler County (where the raceway is located), said in a statement: “This comes as a major disappointment to us in that we looked forward to hosting this iconic event in our community. While today’s announcement is difficult to absorb, it is not completely unexpected, given the well-publicized delays related to this planned event. We commend Watkins Glen International for their actions, which we feel are in the overall best interest of the community.”
The announcement is the latest in a long series of setbacks for the anniversary festival, which has been marred by reports of financial and management problems since it was announced back in January. While those reports were initially quashed when the festival held a splashy press conference in March announcing a blockbuster lineup including Jay-Z, the Dead & Co., Miley Cyrus and many others, but then the ticket on-sale date was abruptly postponed as the necessary mass-gathering permit had not been obtained, and then the festival’s financial partner, Dentsu Aegis, abruptly pulled out late in April. Woodstock 50 and Dentsu have been embroiled in a legal battle ever since.
Nearly two months out from the festival’s scheduled dates, tickets still have not gone on sale. O’Hearn told Variety that the festival’s permit application was received months later than other festivals held at the raceway; tickets for such events are usually on-sale many months in advance.
Throughout, chief organizer Michael Lang, one of the promoters of the original 1969 festival, has insisted it will go forward. But with the widely publicized challenges the festival has faced, and few available sites in the area capable of hosting a weekend concert of upward of 70,000 fans — which is the latest estimate the festival provided to Watkins Glen management — this latest setback seems tough to overcome.
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