Woodstock 50 Denied Permit For Fourth Time In Two Weeks

Woodstock 50
– Woodstock 50

Woodstock 50 organizers have failed, for a fourth time, to convince the Town of Vernon, N.Y., to approve a permit application for an event at the Vernon Downs racetrack resort and casino venue. 

In a 29-page letter from the town’s code enforcement office addressed to Susan Cronin, Woodstock 50 LLC was informed July 22 of the denial – with the first paragraph pointing out that the application was “apparently” filed by Woodstock 50 because “the three-ring binder that was filed on July 17th was not accompanied by an application signed by anyone in particular.”

It probably didn’t even matter; what was submitted includes a “confidentiality statement” that the denial letter says invalidates the entire safety plan and hence the application. 

The letter cites numerous inadequacies in the purported application – besides saying the details of the security plan are confidential, it reportedly includes contact names of people with Virgin Produced (which has already backed out of the festival), identifies the “New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services” as the lead intra-agency contact (but contains no documentation); and says the New York State Police and Oneida County Sheriff’s Department are involved local law enforcement agencies, yet the sheriff has already written a letter saying he doesn’t believe the event “can be conducted safely.”

The purported application also proposes a capacity of 65,000 – a number that has been rejected repeatedly by Oneida County officials as well as former Woodstock 50 production partners. In addition to inadequate plans for securing the festival’s perimeter, Vernon Code Enforcement Officer Reay Walker questioned what 65,000 music fans were to do once the music ends.

“Implicit in this application is that those forced to leave Vernon Downs at 11:00 at night will be forced to sleep in their cars or any lawn or sidewalk that seems unguarded,” he wrote in denying the permit.

Lang reportedly pushed partners to approve a capacity of up to 150,000 at the original Watkins Glen International raceway locale, despite misgivings from venue officials, financial partner Dentsu and production partner Superfly. None remains involved with Woodstock 50. Watkins Glen revoked its own permit allowing use of the site, reportedly when organizers failed to make a $150,000 payment to secure the venue.

The denial appears to leave Woodstock 50 organizers including co-founder Michael Lang with few options, just more than three weeks out from the planned Aug. 16-18 anniversary.

Woodstock 50, which was announced with great hoopla in April, is to feature artists including Jay-Z, Santana, Miley Cyrus, Lumineers, John Fogerty and about 60 others. It has been dogged by skepticism from the start, with observers noting what appeared to be a lack of organization and a late lineup announcement for a festival of its size and cultural import.

As of press time, there has been no comment from Woodstock 50 LLC regarding the latest permit denial.