Organizers finally cancel troubled Woodstock 50 festival

A general view of the field where the 1969 Woodstock music festival took place at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, in Bethel, New York. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Woodstock 50 is officially canceled.

Organizers announced Wednesday that the troubled festival that hit a series of setbacks in the last four months won’t take place next month.

The three-day festival was originally scheduled for Aug. 16-18, but holdups included permit denials and the loss of a financial partner and a production company.

Last week Jay-Z, Dead & Company and John Fogerty announced that they wouldn’t perform at the event after organizers said it was moving to Maryland from New York.

“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,” festival co-founder Michael Lang said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Organizers said they were planning to make Woodstock 50 a free benefit concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, before announcing they had canceled the festival altogether. Lang announced the 50th anniversary event in March alongside Fogerty and rapper-actor Common, two acts that were slated to perform. Other artists who were booked for the festival included the Killers, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, Chance the Rapper, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, David Crosby, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile and Halsey.

Woodstock 50 was originally supposed to take place across three main stages at Watkins Glen International racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northwest of the original site, but the venue pulled out. Tickets were supposed to go on sale on April 22, which was Earth Day, but that was postponed.

Woodstock will still celebrate its anniversary: Ringo Starr, Santana and Fogerty will perform at Woodstock’s original site in Bethel, New York, in a smaller anniversary event at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts not connected to Woodstock 50.

The original Woodstock, a festival pushing the message of peace, love and music, was a seminal, groundbreaking event in 1969 that featured performances by Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, the Who and other iconic acts.

Lang is asking Woodstock 50 artists who were already paid to donate 10% of their earnings to HeadCount, a nonprofit group that registers voters at music events, or to another organization.

“Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s critical mission to get out the vote before the next election,” Lang said in his statement. “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.”

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