Woodstock 50, embattled anniversary festival, officially canceled

"We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined," said one of the key organizers.
Image: Woodstock 50
From left, Comedy writer Alan Zweibel, HeadCount executive director Andy Bernstein; hip hop recording artist Common; Woodstock co-producer and co-founder, Michael Lang and musician John Fogerty participate in the Woodstock 50 lineup announcement at Electric Lady Studios, in New York on March 19, 2019.Evan Agostini / Invision/AP file

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By Daniel Arkin

Woodstock 50 is no more.

The three-day event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the era-defining music festival has been canceled after a string of financial headaches and legal hitches, organizers said in a statement Wednesday.

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"We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined," said Michael Lang, one of the key organizers behind the original festival and its revival.

Lang encouraged artists and agents, who he claimed have been "fully paid," to donate 10 percent of their fees to HeadCount, a nonprofit that registers voters at concerts, or "causes of their choice in the spirit of peace."

The announcement comes after reports that A-list headliners — including pop star Miley Cyrus and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z — had dropped out of the event, originally slated for Aug. 16 through 18.

In recent months, the beleaguered event lost its financial backer, key producing partners, crucial permits and at least two venues. As of Wednesday morning, tickets had not even been put up for sale.

The event was envisioned as a cross-generational gathering that would unite millennials and nostalgic Baby Boomers. The lineup featured Nixon-era favorites such as Santana and John Fogerty, both of whom later bailed.

Woodstock 50 was scheduled to take place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland after organizers lost their original venue in Watkins Glen, New York, and a backup in Vernon, New York.

The original Woodstock, a counterculture landmark that became synonymous with the hippie movement and free-love spirit of the late 1960s, was also dogged by logistical troubles, including a last-minute venue change.