Organizers pull plug on Woodstock 50 at Merriweather Post

The 50th-anniversary Woodstock festival, which had been set to come to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, after having fallen through in two New York State sites, has been canceled.

“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on a festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” festival organizer Michael Lang, a co-founder of the original Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, said in a statement Wednesday.

The shows were going to be held Aug. 16-18, and were designed to raise awareness and money for HeadCount, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing voter registration and participation that works mainly at music festivals.

Lang encouraged “artists and agents, who all have been fully paid, to donate 10% of their fees to HeadCount or causes of their choice in the spirit of peace.”

He blamed “conflicting radius issues in the D.C. area,” saying that “many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons.”

For example, Santana, one of the original Woodstock performers, told The Poughkeepsie Journal on Tuesday that they wouldn’t be able to play the 50th-anniversary show because they’re at Jiffy Lube Live, in Bristow, Virginia, on Aug. 14.

Jay-Z and John Fogerty also pulled out of the festival in recent days.

Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P., which operates Merriweather Post, said in the statement, “It was just too late in the game. … Hopefully, with plenty of time to prepare, Merriweather will become the site of a future festival that captures the original vibe. A lot of people clearly wanted it to happen.”

Organizer Greg Peck cited a previous “unfortunate dispute with our financial partner” and said “time simply ran short.” He thanked the organizers and supporters, including Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, who for his part said, “I share in the disappointment of everyone who hoped to celebrate the anniversary of ‘Peace & Music’ with a festival this summer.”

The festival was to have been free, although tickets would still have been required.

The original lineup for the anniversary festival included Common, The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, Chance the Rapper, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, David Crosby, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile and Halsey. It was first set for Watkins Glen, and then Vernon Downs, both in New York.

A smaller event will be held Aug. 15-18 in Bethel, New York, on the site of the original festival. Ringo Starr, Santana and Fogerty will play.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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