Phish festival threatened by plague-carrying rodents (and no, that’s not a comment on Phish fans)

Phish, the jam band, has a problem with their upcoming annual Labour Day weekend gig in Colorado. For the past eight years, Phishheads have shown up for a few days of music, camping, fellowship, and drugs. But this year, there’s a problem.

The site of the festival, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce, Colorado, is invested with black-tailed prairie dogs, little buggers that carry a particular flea infected with yersinia pestis, the same bacteria that causes bubonic plague. Yes, the Black Death.

No one is worried too much about bubonic plague–but they are concerned about a variety called sylvatic plague, which can also be transferred to humans.

The good news is that plague can be treated with antibiotics. But who wants to get it in the first place?

Wildlife officials have closed off the adjacent Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Park so they can spray prairie dog burrows with insecticides. Meanwhile, Phish has released a statement:

As you may have heard, there have been ongoing cases of plague in prairie dog colonies in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge this summer. Fortunately, the Tri-County Health Department has advised that Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (DSGP) is safe to host Phish’s concerts over Labor Day weekend. While there have been no confirmed cases of plague on site at DSGP, as an extra measure of caution, the Health Department has restricted parking at the venue to asphalt lots — concertgoers will not be allowed to park on unpaved lots or grass.

As a result, we are sorry to say that there will be no overnight camping allowed for this year’s shows. All camping tickets and RV tickets (and associated service charges) will be automatically refunded within the next few days. We recognize the tremendous inconvenience this may cause for those who had planned on camping.

While DSGP has significant asphalt parking on site, off-site parking will need to be utilized to accommodate all concertgoers. We will be providing free off-site parking and free shuttles at nearby locations, and we will be notifying ticket holders of parking and shuttle details once they are finalized over the next week.

Also, please note that due to these restrictions, vending will not be permitted on site as the area traditionally set aside for vending is no longer useable.

Thanks very much for your cooperation — our goal is to make sure these concerts go off as smoothly as possible while preserving the safety of all attendees.

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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