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Woodstock 50 denied permit at potential new venue

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After losing their intended venue, Watkins Glen, in June, organizers of the troubled Woodstock 50 incredibly opted to forge ahead, saying, “we are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on August 16th—18th and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks.” They applied for a permit to hold the festival at Vernon, NY casino and horse racing site Vernon Downs, even though its capacity was smaller than Watkins Glen and it wouldn’t be able to host onsite camping. Variety reports that the town has denied that permit. Speaking to Variety, Oneida County Administrator Anthony Picente Jr. said that organizers have five days to appeal, but “what they have submitted to date has not met many of the requirements” to stage the festival, and it’s “highly unlikely” to take place in Oneida County. “It’s been chaotic,” he continued. “Originally it was going to be a three-day festival, but then [the producers] said instead it would be three one-day events, with all 65,000 or however many people vacating the grounds at the end of each day.”

“We could have done this with a year or 16 months advance [planning],” Picente said, “but to do it in three to six weeks is really a near impossibility from a public safety and health standpoint. As someone who as here for 1999, some names have changed but it’s largely the same situation.”

Before the denial of the permit, at a Vernon board meeting on Tuesday night, Syracuse.com reports that Sheriff Robert Maciol said it would be “impossible to ensure the safety of the public at this point,” if the festival were to be held at Vernon Downs in August. “If you’re asking me right now,” he said, “I’m not confident in saying the public will be safe.”

Variety reports that in the same meeting, Oneida Country Head of Emergency Services Kevin Revere called the festival a “recipe for disaster,” saying, “no matter how good the plan looks on paper, to implement this plan in 39 days, is impossible to ensure the safety of the public.”

Woodstock 50 LLC president Greg Peck responded to the meeting with a statement:

We understand the public safety and traffic concerns of the local community. We have been working diligently over the last several weeks to secure the permits needed to hold the festival, and will continue to work with Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officials to present a cohesive safety and traffic plan that will be satisfactory in addressing the concerns. We appreciate the honest feedback from the Town of Vernon and will continue to address their comments as we enter the final planning phases for Woodstock 50. We are confident that this careful planning and consideration of community concerns will result in a safe, world-class Festival.

UPDATE: Syracuse.com reports that Woodstock has issued a statement in response to being denied a permit, as well. “Woodstock 50 believes certain political forces may be working against the resurrection of the festival,” it reads. The festival plans to file an appeal.

Woodstock 50 also lost its producer, and lost an appeal to recoup money from their former financial partner.

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