"Our goal is to make sure these concerts go off as smoothly as possible while preserving the safety of all attendees," Phish said in a statement

By Robyn Merrett
August 20, 2019 10:20 PM
David Zalubowsk/Shutterstock

Colonies of plague-infected prairie dogs, that roam the surrounding area of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, have forced rock group Phish to ban overnight camping during their three-day concert event over Labor Day weekend.

The dreaded announcement came after officials with the Tri-County Health Department revealed in a statement earlier this month that they are finding infected fleas around the prairie dog holes near the park, where the event is taking place.

“It was pretty much determined that we needed to not be careless and reckless in a way to keep people out of those areas,” Monte Deatrich, Tri-County Health Department environmental health manager, told The Denver Post.

Signs have since been plastered around the area, warning park-goers of the dangerous illness — the exact same plague known as the Bubonic Plague, “an infectious disease which was once referred to as ‘The Black Death,'” according to the poster.

The horrifying disease was responsible for killing at least 50 million people across Europe in the years 1346-53, according to History Today. The Black Death was “caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that circulates among wild rodents where they live in great numbers and density.”

Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado
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While fans of Phish are prohibited from camping at the event, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park remains open for the festival, scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sep. 1.

However, the activities must remain on paved lots and off grass fields, Don Strasburg, co-president and senior talent buyer at Denver-based AEG Presents Rocky Mountains, told The Denver Post.

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As a precaution, the Tri-County Health Department is urging concert-goers to “stay out of areas that prairie dogs inhabit; avoid all contact with prairie dogs and wild rodents and to avoid fleas.”

If an attendee begins to feel sick within one week of their visit to the area, they are instructed to see a doctor immediately as the disease is now a “treatable illness.”

Symptoms of the plague include: fever and chills, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and shock.

Phish broke the news on their Facebook page on Tuesday, writing, “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— concert goers will not be allowed to park on unpaved lots or grass.”

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“We are sorry to say there will be no overnight camping allowed for this year’s show,” the band continued, adding that “all camping tickets and RV tickets will be automatically refunded within the next few days.

“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.”

Phish
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

“We recognize the tremendous inconvenience this may cause for those who had planned on camping,” Phish said.

Due to the inconvenience, Phish will be providing off-site parking and free shuttles.

“Our goal is to make sure these concerts go off as smoothly as possible while preserving the safety of all attendees.”

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The venue was expecting between 2,000 and 3,000 campers each night, Strasburg told The Denver Post.

The band has hosted the concert for the last eight years.

Although Dick’s Sporting Goods Park remains open, several other nearby attractions including The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Commerce City, the Prairie Gateway Open Space and First Creek at DEN Open Space are all closed due to the epidemic, the Tri-County Health Department announced.

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