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VT prepares for flood of Phish fans

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Social services prepare for crush of Phish fans

By Andy Netzel

Free Press Staff Writer

Community groups that provide shelter and hot meals for Burlington's needy are girding for the arrival of tens of thousands of Phish fans, many of whom may be in need of help during their August visit to Vermont.

Phish fans often show up before and stay after a music festival, and many come without plans for food and lodging. Although the concert is in the Northeast Kingdom, many believe concert-goers will spend time in Burlington, where the band got its start.

Social service agencies and police will meet in Burlington on Tuesday to prepare for the August show in Coventry. The groups will talk about how the community will handle the influx of the Phish fans who will depend on them. Social service agencies will still be called upon to help local families who need assistance, said Martha Maksym, community services director for United Way of Chittenden County.

"There is a delicate balance," Maksym said. "Given the state of the economy and the needs of our community, we're going to be making some hard decisions."

Group leaders said they are not apprehensive about the flood of people coming into town -- instead, they just want to make sure they're ready. The groups were caught unprepared in 1998 when a Phish concert and two other shows drew thousands who slept in City Hall Park and panhandled on Church Street throughout the day, Maksym said.

"I don't think that we want to be uncaring and heartless," Maksym said, "but services are tight right now. There are a lot of local families in need."

Laura Ayotte of the Northeast Kingdom Community Action agency based in Newport said she is contacting agencies that served throngs near past Phish shows to see what kind of impact her group can expect to see while located at ground-zero of the concert scene.

Some aren't very worried at all.

Rita Markley, executive director of the Committee on Temporary Shelter, said anyone who stays more than a night needs to go through an intensive screening process. The drug- and alcohol-free requirement to spend a night at the shelter will also likely keep the younger crowd away, she said.

Wanda Hines, director of the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, said she's excited. The food shelf will need more donations, but she doesn't expect the crowd to rival those on Christmas and Thanksgiving. She's working on making sure they have enough rested volunteers to help.

The previous experience in 1998 will help for preparations, Hines said. She said she's excited to help.

"Clearly, this is the mother of all concerts," Hines said. "Let's get ready to rumble."

Local and state police forces began preparing for the crowd months ago when the concert was announced, said Stephen Wark, Burlington's deputy police chief.

"It's more than a 10 percent population increase in the state of Vermont," Wark said. "People will surely be coming down to Burlington. We feel pretty comfortable with our ability to deal with it."

Wark said Phish fans are generally peaceful. More police will be on duty when Phish-heads start filling Burlington's streets. He hopes many will understand the city's rules before they come.

The main concern, Ward said, is making sure people use camp grounds instead of City Hall Park or other city property.

"There are a lot of hotels, motels and camping grounds in the area," he said. "But people have to want to use them."

He said the city is welcoming to the visitors and wants to make sure everyone stays safe. "Hey, it's good music," he said, "and it's a good city."

From The Burlington Free Press

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In online message, Phish urges fans to respect Vt.

By Associated Press

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My brother's heading up there. He's a huge Phish fan. He usually goes to their concerts. He'll drive anywhere to see them. He's driven to the north of Maine, Tennessee, Florida, everywhere. He told me that Anybody who lives in the area who doesn't want to have anything to do with the noise, commotion, etc. will get an all-expense paid vacation. Good deal, no?

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Stymied by muddy parking, police turn back Phish fans

By Tim Mccahill, Associated Press, 8/14/2004 14:33

COVENTRY, Vt. (AP) With hundreds of cars stuck in the mud and more pouring in from across the country, Vermont State Police on Saturday started turning back traffic headed to the Phish festival and telling thousands of ticketholders they would get refunds but no admittance.

Police erected a roadblock on Interstate 91 and other roads around 9 a.m. Saturday and told fans headed to the two-day festival at the Newport State Airport to turn around.

''Because of the heavy rains, parking inside the festival site has basically become impossible, and they're concerned for peoples' safety,'' said Adam Lewis, a spokesman for the concert promoter, Great Northeast Productions, said Saturday.

All ticket holders denied entry to the site will get their money back, the promoter said in a statement.

The promise of a refund was no comfort to fans stopped on Interstate 91 Saturday, many of whom abandoned their vehicles and headed out on foot for the concert site, about a dozen miles from the nearest exit.

''There is no way I am not going to try to get in,'' said Erika Sander of Blodgett, Oregon, who flew to Manchester, N.H., and rented a car to drive to the show. She left the car on the side of the road and started walking to the concert Saturday.

''There's no way I'm going to be defeated,'' Sander said.

Groups of people streamed down a grass embankment next to an interstate off-ramp to start the journey from the exit to the concert entrance. Their cars lay empty along the side of the highway for at least two miles past the exit; thousands more were populated with fans contemplating their next move.

''We'll do anything we can to get into the show,'' said Cortland Coleman, 32, of Scottsdale, Ariz. His pregnant wife Kirsten said she felt the same way.

''I have to say goodbye,'' she said.

''We're trying to assess our options,'' Cortland Coleman said. ''We're trying to get accurate information.''

Other fans were more irate.

''I don't care we're going in,'' said an exasperated Scott Sill of Greenwich, Conn.

The Coventry Phish concert Saturday and Sunday is the band's last, and 70,000 people bought tickets to attend.

By Friday, Interstate 91 was backed up for 15 miles with fans in cars trying to get to the site, while other local roads were also clogged. Heavy rains Thursday and Friday turned the campgrounds into quagmires, and local residents with tractors spent both days pulling stuck cars, trucks and campers from the mud.

Saturday, the weather had turned fair, with sun and patches of blue sky. But more rain was expected Sunday as Hurricane Charley passed by to the south.

Police had planned to have fans gone from the site by Monday evening, but the prospect of worse weather Sunday would inevitably prolong the amount of time it would take to get fans out of the airport, state police Sgt. Bruce Melendy said at a Saturday morning news conference.

He said police were now planning to stay until Tuesday.

''We'll just deal with it as it comes,'' Melendy said.

Melendy said he was not prepared to say how many fans were gathered inside the state airport. Estimates he provided on Friday tagged the size of the crowd at around 23,000.

State police Capt. John Filipek told radio station WDEV Saturday that around 30,000 people were congregated at the airport, and that officials were hoping to get another 4,000 cars in.

But Great Northeast president Dave Werlin said safety, not numbers, was the priority inside the airport.

''We're not counting numbers ... we're just assessing what it is we need to do to get through the event safely,'' he said.

Werlin said Phish would adapt its concert schedule according to the weather. Starting Saturday evening the band is to play three sets a day until its farewell gig late Sunday night.

''This band is very adaptable to changes in the situation,'' he said. ''Right now the plan is to stick with the original set times and go from there.''

Phish has endured rain at previous festivals, but those events were either staged on hard, concrete surfaces or on soil that drained better than the clay variety inside the state airport, Werlin said.

''Every place has its unique facets,'' he said. ''But we never imagined in a million years that we would see this type of saturation in the ground. This type of thing happens maybe two or three times since they've been keeping records.''

On the Net: http://www.phish.com

From The Boston Globe

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Cleaning up after Phish fans cost $35,000

August 23, 2004

COVENTRY, Vt. --Cleaning up after fans of the band Phish cost the state $35,000, and it's sending the bill to promoters of this month's festival.

Hundreds of bags of trash were left alongside Interstate 91 while Phish fans were stuck between the Barton and Orleans exits for hours, waiting to get to the festival in Coventry. After state police closed the festival site to traffic because of muddy conditions many fans abandoned their vehicles to walk the rest of the way to the Newport State Airport.

Sam Lewis, deputy director of operations at the Agency of Transportation, said the festival's promoters, Townsend, Mass.-based Great Northeast Productions Inc., would pick up the tab. Adam Lewis, spokesman for Great Northeast, has said all along that the company would pay the cost of picking up the trash.

Crews from the agency's districts in Derby and St. Johnsbury spent three days cleaning up the mess.

Earlier last week, Sam Lewis said the fans had done a pretty good job of leaving the trash in bags. However, he said, people went through the trash bags gathering up cans and bottles to redeem them for the deposit.

Lewis said the contract with Great Northeast stipulated the promoters would pay the state $15,000 for having transportation employees pick up trash associated with the festival, primarily along U.S. Route 5.

Lewis said he didn't have any idea how many truckloads of trash were removed or how much it weighed. However, of the $35,000 bill, $8,000 of it was for dump fees, he said.

From The Boston Globe

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not to bring up old topics... but i was there and turned around... i did have a ticket and got my refund and gift though.

first of all, the line of cars was unbelievable. i don't think i've seen that many in my life...

second, there were signs trying to urge people to keep clean... they read "DON'T JERSEY VERMONT"

third, here's a link to the page i created with my pics from my trip up there.

i'm not sure the area residents were given paid vacations, but they were given tickets to the event. there was a blog that one guy created each day since before the fans arrived until a couple days after. it's pretty cool.

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I think the "Don't Jersey Vermont" campaign is an anti-sprawl campaign.

As far as I know, it's been around for awhile.

that's interesting... i know they were using signs that said that as a way of saying "don't trash VT" since jersey is synonymous with trash. :P

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Some people in New Jersey offered a weak retaliation with a "Don't Vermont Jersey" campaign. Whatever that means.

keep jersey dirty? :whistling:

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