Woodstock 50‘s co-founder announced on Wednesday that the long-troubled three-day anniversary music festival has been officially cancelled.
“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the Festival we imagined with the great lineup we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” a statement provided to Global News from Michael Lang read.
The revelation came after an ongoing sea of troubles and doubt.
From the event being falsely cancelled to the Woodstock 50 team losing its biggest investor, and the loss of not only one, but two venues set to host the festival, Lang and co. haven’t had a lot of luck since announcing the festival in March.
Woodstock Music Festival co-producer Michael Lang is interviewed during a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock at the at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC on Aug. 13, 2009, in New York City.
They were forced to relocate the festival from New York to Maryland just last week after finally finding a venue — the Merriweather Post Pavilion — willing to host the nearly doomed festival.
As a result of the relocation, Woodstock 50 lost almost its entire lineup of performers, including headlining acts Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Dead & Company and The Raconteurs, among many others.
“When we lost the Glen and then Vernon Downs we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel,” the 74-year-old Lang said, referring to the initially proposed venue of Watkins Glen in New York and the backup site, which was a casino and horse-racing track in the town of Vernon, N.Y.
He later revealed that his team had collaborated with non-profit organization HeadCount, which promotes democracy through music, to make Woodstock a smaller charity event, in hopes of raising funds for the foundation ahead of the next presidential election in 2020.
“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,” the statement continued.
“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.”
Chairman and operator of the Merriweather Post Pavilion Seth Hurwitz also issued a statement to Global News, admitting that “it was just too late in the game” to salvage the festival even after organizers were able to find a new venue.
“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.”
A poster from the official Woodstock 50 website advertising the August 2019 festival.
Woodstock 50’s principal organizer, Greg Peck, wrote that the seemingly endless roadblocks delaying the success of the festival “set us off course at a critical juncture,” adding that it threw “a wrench in our plans.”
Peck admitted that while he and Lang wanted to create a fitting tribute to the original 1969 Woodstock, “time simply ran short.”
“We are greatly disappointed and thank all of our supporters,” he continued, “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 honour and celebrate these ideals.”
In wake of the news, Ball said he shares in the “disappointment of everyone who hoped to celebrate the anniversary of ‘Peace & Music’ with a festival this summer.”
Before its sudden cancellation, multiple reports surfaced that Woodstock 50 would be free and that it would only be a one-day event. Although Lang’s statement suggests this, none of these reports were officially confirmed.
In this Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, file photo, Michael Lang speaks during a tour at the former Zena Elementary School in Woodstock, N.Y.
“Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s mission,” Lang added. “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.”
The longtime festival organizer was referring to Woodstock 50’s former main competitor, the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival.
The rival event secured the original site of the legendary Woodstock 1969 festival — near White Lake in Bethel, N.Y. — long before Lang and his team could.
Fans who were hoping to attend Woodstock 50 now have an idealistic alternative, as the opposing festival, too, celebrates the anniversary of the iconic weekend.
Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival is set to take place on the same days as Woodstock 50 was — between Aug. 16 and 18.
The full lineup and ticket information can be found through their official website.
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