Woodstock Returns Again on the Festival’s 50th Anniversary | Modern Society of USA

Woodstock Returns Again on the Festival’s 50th Anniversary

Woodstock Returns Again on the Festival’s 50th Anniversary

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — When the first Woodstock music festival was held in 1969, bringing around 400,000 people to a muddy field in Bethel, N.Y., it focused the world’s attention on pop music’s power to shape the culture.

Half a century later, in a music market already jammed with big-ticket festivals, could another Woodstock muster the same impact?

Michael Lang, one of the producers of the original event, is betting that it can. From Aug. 16 to 18 — almost exactly 50 years after the first Woodstock — he will present an official anniversary festival, Woodstock 50, in Watkins Glen, N.Y., with ambitions to not only attract a huge multigenerational audience but to rally those fans around a message of social activism.

“Cannabis has always been in our DNA,” Mr. Lang said with a smile; his first commercial venture, in 1966, was a head shop in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami.

Of the other young men on the team that created Woodstock — Joel Rosenman, John Roberts and Artie Kornfeld — Rosenman is a partner in Woodstock Ventures, along with the family of Roberts, who died in 2001. Kornfeld will return as a consultant and “spiritual adviser,” Mr. Lang said.

Merchandise sales — particularly featuring the original Woodstock bird-and-guitar logo — provide one proxy for gauging the continuing appeal of the Woodstock brand. Dell Furano, the chief executive of Epic Rights, who has handled official Woodstock merchandise for 15 years, said that he is expecting over $100 million in retail sales of Woodstock licensed products in 2019 — four or five times that of non-anniversary years.

“There’s every type of tie-dye. Children’s products. Dog products. Speakers, wine, cannabis,” Mr. Furano said in an interview. “The appeal is multigenerational.”

In 1969, the mud, the tie-dye and the idealism were all catalysts in creating what the original festival had promised: three days of peace and music. Mr. Lang said that the divisiveness of the current political climate called for that once again.

“It just seems like it’s a perfect time,” he said, “for a Woodstock kind of reminder.”

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