Jeremy Schaller, one of the family farm’s owners, told the Saugerties Town Board the family has received a proposal from the promoter of a music festival.
“In 1960, my grandfather bought the farm, and then in 1968 Michael Lang came to ask him to do the first Woodstock on the property. He reluctantly said ‘no’ at the time…In 1993, Michael Lang came to my father, and proposed another Woodstock festival, and as you know, Woodstock II happened on Winston Farm. I think you remember it as a very positive thing for the town and for everybody that participated in it.”
The current promoter is Melvin Benn, who has promoted concerts worldwide, Schaller said. Benn first approached the family in November, and told them Winston Farm would be his first choice for a festival series in the United States, Schaller said. “He said he thought it was the ideal site to do another music festival.”
“His festivals come with great taste, and they are reoccurring, usually on a yearly basis,” Schaller said. Citing several festivals Benn has promoted, Schaller said the number of spectators generally falls between 40,000 and 50,000. Since all the people at the festival would be paid ticket holders, the likelihood of the numbers getting out of hand is low.
Benn would like to promote an annual concert series, with a highlight in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock concert. Schaller said.”If we can start small, there is the possibility that we could do something for the 50th anniversary of Woodstock here.”
Benn wants to see tentative approval from the Town Board before he goes ahead with plans, Schaller said, or at least a willingness on the board’s part to speak with him. “Just to have an open discussion; that if you guys like the conversation you might pursue doing this festival,” he said.
Supervisor Kelly Myers said she doesn’t think the board has enough information to approve the concert, but it is certainly open to further discussion.
The Woodstock Festival has never been held in Woodstock. The first festival was in the town of Bethel, in Sullivan County, August 15 to 18, 1969. The promoters – and the site – were overwhelmed with the massive turnout. The original site is now the home of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a not-for-profit performing arts center and museum.
On the 25th anniversary of the original festival, the second Woodstock Festival was held at Winston Farm, August 12-15, 1994. A third festival, held in Rome, NY in 1999, ended in violence and accusations of rape.
Benn’s concert would not be called Woodstock, but rather the “Latitude Music Festival,” Schaller said. He cited festivals Benn organizes annually in England, including the Glastonbury Music Festival, which has been held annually since 1970, and the Reading and Leeds Festivals, also an annual linked pair of festivals.