Woodstock files appeal in last-ditch bid to hold festival at Vernon Downs

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Vernon, N.Y. – Woodstock 2019 promoters this morning filed an appeal with the town of Vernon, seeking to hold the festival at Vernon Downs as time rapidly ticks away.

The town planning board now has up to 30 days to hear the appeal. The festival is planned for Aug. 16 to 18.

Neither town attorney Vincent Rossi not code enforcement officer Jody Thieme were immediately available for comment.

Thieme on Tuesday denied temporary event permits for the three-day festival planned for mid-August, saying the applications were incomplete and filed too late.

Vernon town law requires an application to be filed at least 120 days in advance of an event. The first application was filed June 18, about 60 days before the opening day of the festival

In a statement Tuesday night, Woodstock denied that its application was not incomplete and said that “certain political forces may be working against the resurrection of the festival.”

Woodstock spokesperson Sallie Hofmeister, of Los Angeles communications firm Sitrick & Company, declined to elaborate on those “forces” or on the fact that the application was filed months late.

Tuesday’s denial came the day after about 100 residents packed the Vernon town hall Monday night to protest the festival, which promoters say could bring 65,000 people to the village of Vernon, population 1,100. Police said at that meeting they did not have enough time to make plans for traffic control and public safety.

The application to hold the festival at Vernon Downs was first filed June 18, after Woodstock 50′s plans to hold the three-day festival at Watkins Glen International fell apart. The festival is planned for Aug. 16 to 18 at Vernon Downs, although the Woodstock website still says Watkins Glen.

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Woodstock 50 denied that its applications to the town were incomplete.

“Woodstock 50 officials were informed by the town of Vernon that most questions had been answered, and asked only that Woodstock submit medical, safety/security and traffic plans by this past Sunday, which it did,” the statement said.

Woodstock 50 had five days from the denial to file an appeal with the town planning board. The board has up to 30 days to hear the appeal, said town attorney Vincent Rossi. If the planning board also rejects the applications, Woodstock or Vernon Downs can go to court.

Woodstock’s principal investor, Dentsu, pulled out in April, slamming the “incompetence” of Woodstock 50 organizers. Promoters lost a court battle to get Dentsu to return $18.9 million. The festival was supposed to be held at Watkins Glen International race track, but the track canceled the contract after Woodstock 50 missed a $150,000 payment, according to news reports.

Woodstock 50 says dozens of popular artists are contracted for the festival, including Jay-Z, Santana, Miley Cyrus, The Killers, Chance the Rapper, John Fogerty, Janelle Monae, Dead & Company, Imagine Dragons, and Halsey. It’s not clear, though, if those artists are still contractually obligated to play a concert at Vernon Downs or anywhere else.

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