Woodstock 50, the highly-publicized and equally troubled event which was supposed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous 1969 music festival, has finally been canceled (again).
This is not the first time that news has surfaced about the cancellation of Woodstock 50. In late April, former financial partner Dentsu Aegis Network announced the cancellation of the event. However, Michael Lang was quick to refute Dentsu’s cancellation, kicking off a long, arduous process of legal battles, potential new investors and venues, and other chaotic developments surrounding the festival’s uncertain future.
The news of Woodstock 50’s cancellation comes after organizers recently moved the event to Merriweather Post Pavilion and changed the format of the festival to a free event in hopes of salvaging any momentum they still had left from the original announcement back in March. The initial plans for the 50th-anniversary event were set to take place over three days at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York on August 16th-18th.
“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the Festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” said Michael Lang, co-founder of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, in an official statement. “When we lost the Glen and then Vernon Downs we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel. We formed a collaboration with HeadCount to do a smaller event at the Merriweather Pavilion to raise funds for them to get out the vote and for certain NGOs involved in fighting climate change. We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary. Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons. I would like to encourage artists and agents, who all have been fully paid, to donate 10% of their fees to HeadCount or causes of their choice in the spirit of peace. Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s critical mission to get out the vote before the next election. We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity. My thoughts turn to Bethel and its celebration of our 50th Anniversary to reinforce the values of compassion, human dignity, and the beauty of our differences embraced by Woodstock.”
Added Greg Peck, principal of Woodstock 50, “The unfortunate dispute with our financial partner and the resulting legal proceedings set us off course at a critical juncture, throwing a wrench in our plans and forcing us to find an alternate venue to Watkins Glen. The timing meant we had few choices where our artists would be able to perform. We worked hard to find a way to produce a proper tribute—and some great artists came aboard over the last week to support Woodstock 50—but time simply ran short. We are greatly disappointed and thank all of our supporters, including the team at Merriweather Post Pavilion and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. Woodstock’s values of peace and tolerance are more important today than ever for all of us to stand for and we look to the future for ways to honor and celebrate these ideals.”
“While we were able to quickly eliminate the venue portion of the challenge to present Woodstock, it was just too late in the game,” said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P., owner of the 9:30 Club and The Anthem and operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Lincoln Theatre. “Hopefully, with plenty of time to prepare, Merriweather will become the site of a future festival that captures the original vibe. A lot of people clearly wanted it to happen.”
Said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, “I share in the disappointment of everyone who hoped to celebrate the anniversary of ‘Peace & Music’ with a festival this summer. While Woodstock 50 will not be coming to Howard County, we continue to offer tremendous cultural events at Merriweather Post Pavilion and beyond.”
While news of the festival’s reported cancelation is not surprising after all the troubles and mismanagement which have plagued the production process throughout the spring and summer, it’s probably best to leave the legacy of Woodstock in the past. After all, there’s always the massive 38-disc, 432-song Woodstock 50– Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive box set to turn to.