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No Woodstock experience for Highland

The former Sokol Woodlands property was to be the site of a large concert that had been marketed on the Internet.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
August 27, 2014

ELDRED, NY — Forty-five years ago this month, Woodstock descended on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel and Sullivan County has never been quite the same since.

But as its name implies, the landmark three-day concert, which brought hundreds of thousands of people here, was not originally intended to be in Bethel.

The dairy farm was an alternate site, chosen quickly after promoters lost their preferred site near Woodstock in Ulster County, only a month before the advertised concert date.

Scrambling promoters promised an audience not to exceed 50,000 and Bethel officials agreed to permit the event. The rest is history.

Highland Supervisor Andrew Boyar tries to learn from history. So, when he learned on Tuesday, August 5 that a concert promoter was planning the last-minute re-location of an August 9 concert—which he later learned had been marketed on the Internet—to the former Sokol Woodlands property at 211 Mail Rd., lights and sirens went off in his head.

Boyar said Highland code enforcement officer Dave Kuebler told him on Tuesday morning that he was contacted about a future concert at site on August 1, had inspected the Sokol gym-auditorium and found it unfit, both in its condition and because of zoning conflicts.

Boyar said he agreed that no concert would be possible.

On Tuesday afternoon, concert promoter Rabbi Ronald Greewald appeared at Boyar’s office, and explained that Sokol had been offered as alternative site after another site was lost.

Recalling the historic coincidence, Boyar told him no concert would be permitted at Sokol. Greenwald agreed, but warned that concert goers might still appear and need to be redirected.

He had a similar conversation with promoter Steve Bornstein later, who assured Boyar that his group would “redirect traffic and/or bus traffic.”

Boyar decided it was time to get something on paper, and directed Kuebler and Michael Davidoff, attorney for the town, to prepare a formal notice for the property owner. That evening he reported on the situation at the town board’s work session.

On Wednesday morning, things got more interesting, as Boyar learned from Davidoff that ticket sales for a concert at Sokol had been ongoing on the Internet, and that “this appears to be growing out of proportion.”

The supervisor called county emergency preparedness director Dick Martinkovic to notify him about what was going on.