After a protracted months-long battle for funding and legal approvals, Woodstock 50 — the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock music festival originally planned for this August — was officially canceled Wednesday by its organizers.
“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” Woodstock 50 organizer Michael Lang, who co-founded the original festival, said in a statement.
Woodstock 50 was originally supposed to take place Aug. 16-18 in Watkins Glen, N.Y. with a star-studded lineup of artists made of both current stars including Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus and original Woodstock performers including Santana and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty. However, headlines about the cancellation of Woodstock 50 first started circulating in April, when financial company Dentsu Aegis withdrew from the festival and announced its cancellation. Lang and others argued that Dentsu had no right to unilaterally cancel the festival, and tried to keep it going on their own. After Watkins Glen pulled out of the festivities, they tried to reschedule it for Vernon Downs in New York, but that didn’t work out either.
A last-ditch attempt to reschedule the festival for Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion almost materialized last week, but it was too little, too late. On July 26, the festival finally released all its booked artists from their contracts. The official cancellation announcement followed on Wednesday.
“I would like to encourage artists and agents, who all have been fully paid, to donate 10 percent of their fees to HeadCount or causes of their choice in the spirit of peace,” Lang’s statement continued. “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. 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.”
Even without Woodstock 50, the anniversary is being celebrated all year long at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a nonprofit museum and cultural center located at the site of the original Woodstock. Fogerty, Santana, and Ringo Starr are set to perform there during the Aug. 16-18 anniversary weekend (read more about it here), and a special “We Are Golden” museum exhibit has been constructed to explore Woodstock’s 50-year legacy.