Would a summer concert series at the old Woodstock ’94 grounds be good for local businesses? When Saugerties business leaders were asked for an informal show of hands at the Nov. 28 Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Dutch Ale House, the result was clear: yes.
Promoter Michael Lang was there to make a presentation about the project. He plans to start construction and hold the first events next year. There won’t be much to build, as the facility will have few permanent structures. Lang will submit plans as early as February.
Support from local officials can expedite the approval process, and so far, everybody is on board. Two town board members — Bruce Leighton and Leeanne Thornton — were at the chamber meeting, and both said they supported the project.
“While I can’t speak for the entire board, we support this type of thing,” Leighton said.
Lang is the organizer of the three Woodstock festivals ’69 in Bethel, ’94 in Saugerties and ’99 in Rome, NY. The location for this facility is Winston Farm, a pristine 850-acre piece of land on the north side of Route 212 and west side of Route 32, a stone’s throw from the Hess and Thruway interchange.
Some events would be single-day, some would go on for several days. In addition to music, he envisions community events, like a giant flea market. Some of the events, Lang said, would draw between 20,000 and 30,000 people with no more than 50,000 at the most.
“The community already holds large events such as the Garlic Festival, which brings in about 20,000 into the town,” Lang said.
This summer would have an abbreviated slate of performers, with the following year running from June to the end of September or beginning of October.
And unlike Bethel Woods, the site of the original Woodstock festival, there would be few if any permanent facilities at Winston Farm, Lang explained.
He won’t be the promoter. “Right now I’m looking to work with people who have promoted events before,” Lang said.
Water and sewer lines would be used to service the site, and Lang said that some lines run to the site for the 1994 event might still be in usable shape.
“We’d also work with the HITS folks to avoid traffic problems,” Lang added. But he said he does not envision a lot of traffic from the concerts going into the village.
One chamber member pointed out that after Woodstock ’94, Lang gave the town a check for $1 million, which went towards some construction at town hall.
For Lang’s August, 1969 festival in Bethel (forever confusing folks about where Woodstock really was), planning had him moving the event that would eventually draw a half million folks right up until show time. Similar shifting plans affected him in both 1994 and 1999, as well as during earlier festival outings in Miami in 1968 and for the infamous Altamont concert later in 1969.
“We won’t be doing this under the Woodstock name,” Lang said about his current project last summer
Among those Lang has assembled, to date, to help him this time out have been most of the crew he worked with locally in 1994, including Michael Stock and Ken Graham for site work, and Phil Gitlin handling permits and planning logistics.
Chamber members said they would look forward to having concerts at the farm, with the expectation that such events would bring business to their stores.