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Thousands of Phish phans arrive in Essex Jct - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Thousands of Phish phans arrive in Essex Jct

Essex Junction, Vermont - September 14, 2011

Phish phans started congregating at the Champlain Valley Expo early Wednesday afternoon, but gate officials were turning them away until the 2 p.m. opening to minimize traffic delays.

Police say traffic is their biggest concern of the evening. There was an initial rush through the gates, but Route 15 was flowing freely until 3 p.m.

"I am expecting that will continue through 7-7:30 p.m. when the concert starts," Essex Police Capt. Brad LaRose said.

Locals have mixed reaction to the congestion.

"Some people in and around here are upset about it, but I think it is for a good cause. The traffic does not seem to be any worse than downtown Burlington starting around 4:45 p.m.," said Lauren Bevill of Colchester.

Bevill says it could be much worse.

"It is a small price to pay considering what the people in southern Vermont are dealing with, I guess," she said.

Once inside the gates-- a happy haze fall among the fans. The Phish fanbase is notoriously widespread and these followers did not let crumbled roads get in their way.

Josh Lax and his friends made their way from Vancouver. Combined they have seen more than 100 shows and are happy to support the cause.

"I would be here either way but it good to know the money is going to a good place," Lax said.

He suspects this many fans will be more than a blip in the radar for the local economy.

"The impact is much more than the ticket. We have had three meals in Vermont; we stayed in a hotel for the night. The amount of money fans spend in Vermont is much more than the $75 ticket," Lax said.

Local fans say the show is welcomed relief from weeks' worth of cleanup.

"A lot of our friends from the valley are going to be there. We just need to boogey down and have a good time," said Kristen Cassidy of Waitsfield.

Even before the music got started, Cassidy said this show is already better than the Coventry show in 2004.

"Way better already," she said. "There was so much mud in Coventry and we were really, really far from the stage. It was a long walk and a lot of mud."

Tents filled the parking area in Essex Junction even though tailgating is not allowed. There wasn't much reaction from fairground officials.

"I mean they can say what they want but this many people together that are Phish fans-- they are pretty much going to do what they want to do," Cassidy said.

Molly Smith - WCAX News

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