The denial came a day after opponents of the three-day festival packed a Vernon town board meeting Monday night, voicing concerns about safety and traffic in the rural area. Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol told the crowd it would be impossible to ensure public safety on such short notice.
The Vernon Downs racetrack and casino emerged as a possible site for the Aug. 16-18 anniversary festival after the original venue, Watkins Glen International, pulled out last month. A festival at Vernon Downs could host up to 65,000 people, as opposed to the 150,000 planned for Watkins Glen, and it would not feature camping.
Before the permit denial was announced, Woodstock 50 president Greg Peck said Tuesday that the group is working with law enforcement and public safety officials to address concerns. "We are confident that this careful planning and consideration of community concerns will result in a safe, world-class festival," Peck said in a prepared release.
The festival has faced other setbacks, including the losses of a financial partner and a production company. State health officials said last month they had received a mass gathering permit application for the festival. But they said Tuesday that type of permit was not required since there will be no camping.
The festival still needs to ensure it meets public health requirements for public gatherings of more than 5,000 people and must obtain a permit. New York health officials say they are evaluating information submitted by Woodstock 50 in collaboration with local officials.