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Residents skeptical of plan to bring Woodstock 50 to Howard County

Organizers of the Woodstock 50 music festival on Thursday confirmed it would bring its three-day concert series to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia in mid-August. The prospect of hosting an event of this magnitude in Howard County could be a boost to the local economy.

However, the event is set to take place in about three weeks and tickets have not yet been put on sale. Key performers also have starting backing out of the event that was originally set to take place in New York.

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The Associated Press on Friday reported that rapper Jay-Z and John Fogerty, who performed at the original 1969 festival in Bethel, New York, with Creedence Clearwater Revival, have pulled out of the festival.

Howard County Councilwoman Deb Jung, whose district includes the venue, said she is optimistic about the festival as long as “everyone stays safe and treats our neighborhood with respect.” In the Democrat’s eyes, the festival can bring a boost to the area depending on how many people it attracts.

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“Woodstock as it was will never exist again,” Jung said. “It was something that came together organically. I would love to see more great music in Columbia."

Merriweather Post Pavilion opened 1967 and has hosted multi-act concerts such as Capital Jazz Fest and Virgin Festival. The outdoor venue with a capacity of more than 19,000 has also welcomed performers such as Janis Joplin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix in the past, all of whom performed at the 1969 Woodstock.

Jung, who lives less than three miles from the venue, said the noise is effectively “light background noise" and not too disruptive.

For Maria Alvarez, however, the noise is a nuisance. Alvarez moved three miles away from the venue in September 2007. “Merriweather continues to bother people near and far,” she said, and the Woodstock festival would continue the nuisance. Alvarez said the noise is sometimes so loud, she can hear the singer.

Howard County resident Stu Kohn expressed concern for the event’s impact on local infrastructure.

“Was this coordinated with the various department heads and officials? What’s the impact of the quality of life for those three days on the general public? Can the county handle the estimated crowd?” he asked. “These questions need to be addressed and adequately answered."

Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, said the government and police department “are currently communicating with both the promoters and Merriweather Post Pavilion regarding the logistics and permitting process” in regards to hosting the potential Woodstock 50 concert.

“At this time, we are awaiting more details from the organizers in order to properly permit this show. Once we receive all the relevant information, we will be able to issue the proper permits to make sure this historic event goes off safely, smoothly, and will be a joyous occasion for both our visitors and residents.”

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