NEW YORK — The Woodstock 50 festival in Watkins Glen is back on after a court rebuffed an ex-investor's effort to cancel the anniversary extravaganza — but organizers will have to do without some $18 million, at least for now.
Manhattan judge Barry Ostrager ruled Wednesday that the festival's former chief backer, Amplifi Live, couldn't singlehandedly call off the August show but also doesn't have to put the $18 million back into it. The money dispute and other issues are poised for arbitration.
Organizers celebrated the ruling, which came after dueling claims about whether the festival was on or off.
"We have always relied on the truth and have never lost faith that the festival would take place," said Michael Lang, one of Woodstock 50's organizers and a promoter of the original 1969 Woodstock concert in Sullivan County.
Amplifi, meanwhile, said it felt vindicated by the judge's ruling on the $18 million.
"The court did not rule that Amplifi Live's assumption of control over the festival was improper," the company noted in a statement, adding that it doesn't plan to invest further in Woodstock 50 because of issues including "the compressed timeframe and multiple health and safety concerns."
The event is planned for Aug. 16-18 at Watkins Glen International speedway.
A separate anniversary show is planned on the same dates at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, site of the original Woodstock concert. Performers scheduled there include Ringo Starr, Santana and John Fogerty.
Amplifi cited safety concerns and announced April 29 that it was canceling the three-day concert in Watkins Glen.
The organizers' group, Woodstock 50 LLC, retorted that Amplifi was undermining the show — which was still a go — and had snatched $18 million from the festival's bank account. Amplifi, an arm of Japan-based marketing firm Dentsu, said it just reclaimed what was left of the $49 million it put in.
Ticket sales have been delayed, permits are still in the works and major venue improvements — including roads and a temporary water system — need to be made, according to court documents and testimony.