Has Woodstock 50 Has Been Canceled? Investors Pull Support While Event Organizers Vow to Press On
Dentsu Aegis Network, who were financing the festival, feared that the site at Watkins Glen would not be ready to safely accomodate the 100,000 expected to attend
The status of Woodstock 50, the star-studded festival announced last month to mark the semi-centennial of the generation-defining 1969 musical gathering, is up in the air as event investors and organizers issued differing statements Monday.
Dentsu Aegis Network, who were financing the festival, cited production concerns in a statement to Billboard, and fears that the site at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York would not be ready to safely accommodate the 100,000 expected to attend between Friday, Aug. 16 and Sunday, Aug. 18.
“It’s a dream for agencies to work with iconic brands and to be associated with meaningful movements. We have a strong history of producing experiences that bring people together around common interests and causes which is why we chose to be a part of the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival,” the statement began. “But despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.”
The statement continues: “As a result and after careful consideration, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival. As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved.”
However, the publicity firm backing original festival organizer Michael Lang denies that the event is canceled.
“We are committed to ensuring that the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock is marked with a festival deserving of its iconic name and place in American history and culture. Although our financial partner is withdrawing, we will of course be continuing with the planning of the festival and intend to bring on new partners,” the told PEOPLE in a statement Monday evening. “We would like to acknowledge the State of New York and Schuyler County for all of their hard work and support. The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it’s going to be a blast.”
An additional statement issued late Tuesday by Woodstock 50’s legal counsel Marc Kasowitz confirms the festival is still on.
“This confirms that Woodstock 50 is proceeding with the planning and production of the festival. Dentsu has no legal right or ability to cancel it. All stakeholders, including the entertainers, should proceed with the understanding that the event will take place as planned and if they have any questions, they should reach out directly.”
Headliners were to include Miley Cyrus, JAY-Z, the Killers, the Black Keys and Chance the Rapper, as well as Woodstock ’69 veterans Santana and Grateful Dead offshoot Dead & Company featuring John Mayer. Tickets had not yet gone on sale for the event — on April 19 it was announced that ticket sales would be postponed.
Representatives for Dentsu Aegis Network have yet to respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Ironically, the 1969 incarnation of Woodstock was filled with logistical headaches that nearly doomed the event before it began. Just a month before the show was due to take place, town officials barred the festival from its original site in Wallkill, New York, leaving Lang and his organizers scrambling to find a suitable replacement.
Dairy farmer Max Yasgur’s allowed his dairy farm in nearby Bethel to serve as the new site, but the venue change left little time for construction. Without the resources to construct both a stage and a fence, the producers declared Woodstock a free festival.