Local permit denied for Woodstock 50 at upstate NY track

Entertainment
VERNON

FILE – This March 30, 2004 file photo, shows the grand stands at Vernon Downs in Verona, N.Y. Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol is among the local officials and residents expressing concerns about upstate New York’s Vernon Downs harness track and casino hosting the 50th anniversary Woodstock festival Aug. 16-18. Vernon Downs could host up to 65,000 people, as opposed to the 150,000 planned for Watkins Glen, and it would not feature camping. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli, File)

VERNON, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York town has denied a permit to stage the Woodstock 50 festival at a local horse track, saying the application is too late and incomplete.

Organizers can appeal the permit denial to the town’s planning board within five days, Vernon town attorney Vincent Rossi said Tuesday. Organizers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The denial came a day after opponents of the three-day festival packed a Vernon town board meeting Monday night, voicing concerns about safety and traffic in the rural area. Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol told the crowd it would be impossible to ensure public safety on such short notice.

The Vernon Downs racetrack and casino emerged as a possible site for the Aug. 16-18 anniversary festival after the original venue, Watkins Glen International, pulled out last month.

A festival at Vernon Downs could host up to 65,000 people, as opposed to the 150,000 planned for Watkins Glen, and it would not feature camping.

Before the permit denial was announced, Woodstock 50 president Greg Peck said Tuesday that the group is working with law enforcement and public safety officials to address concerns.

“We are confident that this careful planning and consideration of community concerns will result in a safe, world-class festival,” Peck said in a prepared release.

The festival has faced other setbacks, including the losses of a financial partner and a production company.

State health officials said last month they had received a mass gathering permit application for the festival. But they said Tuesday that type of permit was not required since there will be no camping.

The festival still needs to ensure it meets public health requirements for public gatherings of more than 5,000 people and must obtain a permit.

New York health officials say they are evaluating information submitted by Woodstock 50 in collaboration with local officials.

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