Police, Phish Management Meet with Coventry Residents

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(Host) In just over one week, 70,000 people will descend on the Northeast Kingdom community of Coventry for the final show by the Vermont band Phish. The band has announced it’s breaking up after the two-day concert August 14-15. Monday night a standing room only crowd turned out in Coventry to hear how organizers plan to deal with the traffic and crowds the concert will draw.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The people who crowded into the Coventry Elementary school on a warm Monday evening fanned themselves with papers handed out by meeting organizers as they listened to concert promoters and state police outline plans for the two day concert. State Police Major James Dimmick said authorities have been planning since April – meeting with local residents and coordinating with a long list of state and federal agencies.

(Dimmick) “This is really an event about crowd management. This is not a crime wave coming into Coventry. This is not a group of people that are looking to displace or harm the residents of Coventry in any way. These are good people. These are just fans looking to come into your town for a concert.”

(Zind) Dimmick reassured area residents that the concert’s promoter and Phish fans have received positive reviews from law enforcement agencies in states where the band has played large outdoor shows. He said there will be a full contingent of state police on the highways and hundreds of security personnel at the concert site, including 60 people on horseback.

Most people at the meeting seemed to accept the security arrangements, but there were many questions about how local residents could navigate around the crowded roads to get to work. Police said traffic will be backed up for miles beginning as early as the Thursday before the show. They said a number of roads will be closed to all but residents to give them some freedom of movement.

Because the show is sold out, there’s concern that many people will show up in Coventry without tickets. While security at the concert site may be adequate, some at the meeting worried about how authorities will deal with people who don’t have tickets.

“The unticketed people are not going to the concert, they’re coming off site to party.”

(Zind) Authorities say there will be more law enforcement and security at the Coventry show than at any previous Phish performance. And concert promoters say they’ve done everything they can to give people without tickets a chance to enjoy the show – including arranging a live broadcast for satellite radio listeners and beaming the show to theaters across the nation.

Organizers say there’s no question that area residents they will be inconvenienced. They compared it to a winter storm that makes the roads impassable, but is quickly over.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Coventry.

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