The festival was scheduled to take place in Watkins Glen, a Central New York village located about 200 miles west of Albany. Because of extensive rain earlier this week, the village experienced massive flooding leading to concerns over water quality, as the Star Gazette reports.
The area wastewater treatment plant found high levels of turbidity in its water due to excessive debris from the floods. Local government officials were then forced to announce a mandatory boil water order for the village. In an effort to salvage Curveball, organizers attempted to bring in enough bottled water and water tanks to last the entire festival, but time constraints and the expected turnout — a whopping 30,000 people — proved to be too much to overcome. Ultimately, Curveball was unable to obtain the proper permits to continue on as planned.
“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,” Bradley Hutton, deputy commissioner for the state Health Department’s Office of Public Health, explained in a statement. “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.”
In a statement of their own, Phish apologized for the cancellation: “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.”
Along with performances from Phish, Curveball promised a slate of various activities, attractions, and art installations this weekend.
Below, read Phish’s full statement.
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.
— Watkins Glen Int'l (@WGI) August 16, 2018
Phish are set to embark on their annual fall tour beginning August 31st in Colorado. Find the full itinerary here, and grab tickets here. And on November 30th, they’ll release a new box set chronicling their 13-date residency at Madison Square Garden in 2013.
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