Woodstock promoter plans permanent center

July 20, 2012 at 7:03 PM
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SAUGERTIES, N.Y., July 20 (UPI) -- U.S. concert promoter Michael Lang says he wants to build a performing arts center for up to 30,000 people where the Woodstock '94 music festival was held.

The Saugerties, N.Y., location -- an 850-acre field 10 miles from Woodstock, N.Y., and 100 miles north of New York City -- would initially present four or five shows starting next summer, in cooperation with established production companies, said Lang, one of the men behind the 1969, 1994 and 1999 Woodstock music festivals.

"In the first year, we want to start off with people that we know, who do their work very well, who've done this for a very long time so that we can have confidence in the production quality and the event quality," Lang told the Kingston, N.Y., Daily Freeman Friday.

"Once we establish what the site can handle comfortably ... then we'll see what things can be available [the] next summer," he said.

The center must still get town approvals. Town Supervisor Kelly Myers told the newspaper she thought the center "would be a nice tourist draw for us."

Woodstock '94 -- commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair, known informally as the Woodstock Festival or just Woodstock -- attracted an estimated 350,000 people and such music superstars as Aerosmith, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Santana.

But the new center would be intended for crowds less than 1/10 the size, Lang said.

"I'm not sure what the number will be yet," Lang told the Freeman. "It won't be 100,000. It will be in a comfortable range. ... Twenty-thousand is a comfortable number, but it could be 30,000, it could be 25,000. We don't have that down yet."

Saugerties Town Board members said this week they were approached by Jeremy Schaller, one of the owners of the field, known as the Winston Farm, about staging concerts there in the years leading up to a big 2019 show to mark the original Woodstock festival's 50th anniversary.

But Lang told the newspaper he was less interested in putting on a large event than in developing a manageable concert series.

"It's not really about 2019," he said. "I called [Schaller] because I had this sort of idea that the thing we had always wanted to do there after [Woodstock] '94, the performing arts center, was something that would be viable," he said.

One of the promises Lang and other Woodstock '94 promoters made to secure the site for the 25th anniversary festival, held Aug. 12-14, 1994, was to build a permanent performance center there. But the plan was dropped in 2004.

The Winston Farm was originally proposed as the location for the 1969 festival, but permission to use the property was not granted.

So the first festival was held on a dairy farm 70 miles southwest in the Catskill Mountains near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, N.Y.

The Bethel site has since been developed into the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which includes a 15,000-capacity outdoor performing arts venue along with a 400-seat event gallery and a 1960s-vintage museum.

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