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Woodstock 50 investors say the festival is cancelled, but organizers are saying otherwise

Woodstock 99
Photo: Joe Traver (Getty Images)

Oops! Despite scoring a lineup that included everyone from JAY-Z and Miley Cyrus to Chance The Rapper and Halsey, Woodstock 50 has reportedly been canceled, Rolling Stone reports. Or has it? Vulture reports that, while investors have pulled the plug, the organizers remain committed to staging the 50th anniversary festival of the flower-powered 1969 festival.

Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, one of the festival’s investment partners, made their statement of cancellation on Monday morning. “[D]espite 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. 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.”


Per Vulture, Amplifi Live says that the Woodstock 50 team routinely “missed production milestones, including securing talent, proper permitting, and audience capacity estimates.” They add that “the infrastructure required to make this event become a reality is far behind schedule,” with “water sources, sanitation facilities, and safe entrances and exits from the site” not up to snuff.

A statement provided to Vulture by Woodstock 50 organizers—one that was also given, in slightly different wording, to USA Todaysays that “Woodstock 50 is currently on a call with Dentsu and Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the cancellation of the festival and will be seeking legal remedy to the comments.”

Woodstock 50 was set to unfold in mid-August in Watkins Glen, New York, a spot the organizers previously described as “the perfect facility for what we had in mind.” The Watkins Glen International speedway has had issues in the past, though—just last year, Phish’s Curveball was called off due to water conditions at the festival site. Billboards sources echo the comments made by Amplifi Live, writing that Woodstock 50's cancellation is rooted in capacity concerns—they were expecting around 100,000 attendees—as well as “site readiness and permit issues,” which, hey, at least they cared about that stuff this time around. They also report that $30 million has already been spent, with sources saying that most of the scheduled artists have already been paid. We’re sure they’ll all happily return the money.

“Woodstock ’99 was just a musical experience with no social significance. It was just a big party,” Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang said back in January. “With this one, we’re going back to our roots and our original intent. And this time around, we’ll have control of everything.” That included the installation of “clean and airy and sizable” toilets, which we’re crestfallen not to be able to experience.


What’s also interesting is that another 50th anniversary celebration of Woodstock was planned just down the road from Watkins Glen at the Bethel location of the original festival. That event, too, though, saw its original aims dashed, having recently downgraded from a three-day festival to a series of concerts. Ringo Starr, Arlo Guthrie, The Doobie Brothers, Santana, and John Fogerty will headline those shows, which are set to unfold from August 16 to 18.

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Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.