This year was supposed to be the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival, but thanks to some issues with production, the festival was canceled. Many people, both attendees of the original Woodstock and just festival fans in general, were incredibly disappointed. Even though the vibe would have been completely different, the symbolic importance of Woodstock’s 50th was a big deal.
That disappointment might be coming to an end if things keep moving in the direction that they have been.
A new report indicates that the team behind Woodstock’s 50th anniversary have filed a new application for the show at a smaller venue without overnight accommodations for music fans. The newly proposed site for the festival is Vernon Downs, an upstate New York racetrack and casino. Many festivals have been held here in the past, but the big drawback is that there’s no camping area. If concert goers did want to stay overnight, alternative lodging would be needed. In the past, this has not proven to be a big deal, but it is contrary to the expectations that a lot of festival fans have for Woodstock 50.
Vernon Downs can hold about 50,000 people. This is a big number, but it’s a lot less than the previous location. The Watkins Glen site that recently backed out of hosting the festival could hold about 70,000 people. This is a big difference in terms of profitability for the event.
Adding to the mix, it’s reported that an executive from Virgin Records is now involved with the planning of the show. This level of professionalism might be exactly what’s needed to get things up and running for real this time. This same group has helped to produce other major festivals in the past. It’s a good sign for the event that such a major player in the music business has thrown its hat into the ring.
No matter what happens with Woodstock 50, producers are going all out to ensure fans have something to hold onto. There have been vinyl albums and other 50th anniversary recordings released to celebrate the occasion. Regardless of what happens and where it takes place, it looks like something is going to happen. The scale might not be quite what music fans were hoping for, but we can be assured that there will be something. What that looks like is still a big question mark at this point, though.
Some of the issues of the Woodstock anniversary stem from it’s troubled past. At the 30th anniversary of the show, fires and riots broke out. The “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” image that the festival has portrayed has also been a cause for concern amongst some. Insurance and liability professionals have been outspoken that this new concert could be a huge mistake if these things are not safeguarded against. Even the original Woodstock was kind of a mess when it launched. Festival organizers ended up needing to stop charging admission and take down gates because of the safety concerns that emerged.
Despite all of this, eliminating overnight camping could be of benefit for a revival of Woodstock. It completely resolves many issues when it comes to responsibility and liability, making it much more attractive for investors.
The clock is ticking. There is very limited time for pulling this festival off, and lining up high-quality talent will be tough to do with such little notice. However, the name recognition that comes with Woodstock will help, and even if it is scraped together at the last moment, this will be a festival for the ages. Stay tuned to the news to see what happens with this.