[UPDATED] New York State & County Officials Force Phish To Cancel Curveball

By Scott Bernstein Aug 16, 2018 2:31 pm PDT


  • Aug 16, 2018 • 6:20 pm PDT

    Bradley Hutton, deputy commissioner for the state Health Department’s Office of Public Health spoke with the Star Gazette about the decision to cancel the festival. After a boil-water advisory was issued on Thursday morning by the Village of Watkins Glen, concert organizers and Watkins Glen International tried to secure enough bottled water or water tankers for those attending the festival. “Throughout the day, we were working on determining whether there was any ability to get alternate water on-site in order to preserve the event going forward,” Hutton said. “The sheer numbers of people on-site and the urgent timeframe that was needed, there was no way for the concert organizers and host location to make that happen.”

    “Ultimately all parties involved determined that there was really no way that there was going to be adequate, safe drinking water for patrons and the decision was made that they would cancel the event,” Hutton added.

Phish‘s Curveball festival, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, has been cancelled. The festival was set to take place at Watkins Glen International racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York. Severe flooding in the local area over the past week led New York State Department Of Health officials to declare the water supply in the Village of Watkins Glen – including the festival site – unsafe for human consumption.

Phish issued a statement expressing their disappointment at the situation and inviting fans who have arrived to stay overnight. Campgrounds will close at noon tomorrow. Read a note from Phish:

Dear friends, our Phish family..

The four of us are writing this from directly behind the stage at Watkins Glen. We were about to walk onstage only moments ago for our traditional soundcheck jam for Curveball when we were told the heartbreaking news that due to the unsafe water conditions in the Village of Watkins Glen, our beloved festival is being canceled.

We are still in shock. The entire site is already set up and ready to go after literally months of work by our beloved hardworking crew, many of whom have been here for weeks. Our families are here, our gear is set, our tents are up. We keep waiting for someone to come over and tell us that there is a solution, and that the festival can go on. Unfortunately, it is not possible.

We are so terribly sorry for the inconvenience that this is causing so many of you. We hope from the bottoms of our hearts that at the very least this news will reach you before too much disruption takes place in your personal lives. We know that people traveled far, at great expense. We understand that people are missing work, and changing their schedules around.. we wish so much that there was some way that this wasn’t happening.

This summer has been absolutely joyous, with each gig building on the previous one, and we were all buzzing with excitement about Curveball. Please accept our deepest apologies for the disruption that this has caused all of you.. We wish there was something else we could say.

Thank you all from the depths of our souls for the joy that you continue to share with us every night. This has been the greatest summer we can remember.

Travel safe and know that we are as heartbroken as all of you. We are standing back here behind the stage, at our party that we’ve been planning for over a year, and we have just told that it won’t happen. There’s just nothing we can do.

Thank you all for your understanding.

With Love,

Here is a joint statement from the New York State Department Of Health & Schuyler County:

With a 14 county State of Emergency still in effect, the prospect of additional inclement weather, and a mandatory boil water order for the Village of Watkins Glen issued today, Schuyler County and the New York State Department of Health are unable to issue the required permits for this weekend’s Curveball Festival.

This week’s severe storm created untenable conditions, including the inability to deliver clean drinking water to patrons and vendors as confirmed by test results delivered today.

Working collaboratively with Watkins Glen International and Phish, the County and the State explored all options to allow the event to continue as scheduled.

While all parties acknowledge the inconvenience of this cancellation to patrons, we have a responsibility to act in the best interest of public health and safety for all.

Phish and Curveball Festival organizers will be notifying ticketholders about how to obtain a refund.

Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup said, “Public health and safety is a concern for all events at Watkins Glen International. While we are disappointed Curveball has been cancelled, we understand and support the county and Department of Health’s decision.”

Senator Tom O’Mara said, “I appreciate the hard work and perseverance of state and local health officials, concert promoters, and everyone at The Glen to try to find a way to give the go-ahead for Phish this weekend. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not cooperate and threw a curveball of her own over the past several days. It’s disappointing for the band, the fans, and the community at large — and I was looking forward to attending myself — but it’s really the only decision that could be made for the overall sake of the public’s health and safety.”

Assemblyman Philip Palmesano said, “I share the disappointment of fans, Watkins Glen International, and the local community. But we appreciate the diligent efforts of state and local health officials, concert promoters, and Glen officials to try to find any way possible to give a green light to this weekend’s festival. Unfortunately, the cancellation is the only decision that can be made to appropriately and responsibly protect the public’s health and safety.”

Word on refunds is forthcoming.

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