The plan for a regular summer concert series at the site of Woodstock ’94 moved another step closer to reality as rock entrepreneur Michael Lang received conditional approval from the Saugerties Town Board for the first of what he’s hoping will be three concerts this year at Winston Farm.
The event is the CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival, scheduled for July 11-14. The first such festival was held last year in Atlanta. Its 75 bands spanned many genres, with trippy electronic dance music a recurring theme. Organizers worked with a host of Atlanta-based businesses and restaurants, and the event included such “planned environments” as an arts village with a cardboard town, extreme sports demonstrations, a beer garden featuring local breweries, a food truck village, and major sponsorship from the likes of Heineken and Bacardi. It drew approximately 20,000 people.
“We had nothing but praise from the community at large and security, police, medical… everybody involved,” said Jonathan Fordin, president and chief executive officer of MCP Presents. “For us, the most exciting part is that the community is right there and we’re in the town and we have the town’s support, and we’ll be able to give back to the town for years to come.”
Lang and Fordin were joined at the Jan. 9 meeting by Jeremy Schaller, the 30-something scion of the family that has owned the scenic 850-acre property between Rt. 32 and Rt. 212 just west of the Thruway for nearly a century.
In Saugerties, Fordin said concert organizers were looking at about 15,000 attendees their first time out and about 35,000 in the future. He said he needs to be able to start selling tickets 180 days before the event to assure its success, and plans to announce a lineup of bands in the next fortnight.
Board members pointed out that the annual Garlic Festival, which takes place on the town’s Cantine Field each September, draws similarly-sized crowds, albeit without camping.
Fordin’s MCP Presents has been in existence for about 12 years. It produced Camp Bisco in the Mohawk Valley last summer, Dallas’s New Years’ Lights All Night event, The Echo Project (which took place where CounterPoint ran five years ago), and will produce the upcoming New Orleans-based Buku Project. It co-produced CounterPoint with Texas-based C3 Presents, known for its production of the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza, the former traveling festival now based in Chicago each summer.
Making it happen
Land said details formalizing the town’s resolution will be worked out in the coming weeks to ensure concert promoters have time to secure the necessary state and county mass-gathering permits and begin ticket sales.
The board approved the plan unanimously, which Lang took as a good sign. More approvals will be needed to outfit the old site for a festival by July. He added that the good vibes must now be backed up with an official memorandum of agreement between the parties, with the added backing of a bond from the promoters to the town to further cement the deal.
“This is all a bit late but I think we’ll be able to get everything done,” said Lang, whose first 1969 Woodstock Festival was famous for its many last-minute moves… and final epic success.
Fordin intends to hold one or two other events this summer, in addition to CounterPoint (and possibly in tandem, again, with C3 Presents). He is also looking at a possible season-ending event to coincide with autumn colors in October, Lang said. He hopes to settle into a pattern of doing four or five events at Winston Farm each year into the future.