April 07, 2020

Phish expected to return> Promoter books rooms, holds negotiations

LIMESTONE — The promoter that brought the Phish rock concert to Aroostook County last year is booking rooms at local hotels for possibly another extravaganza in August at the Loring Commerce Centre.

Great Northeast Productions of Boston has made reservations at several hotels in Presque Isle and Caribou. Desk clerks said Monday that the rooms have been reserved for dates surrounding the weekend of Aug. 15 and 16.

During the same weekend last year, about 70,000 people gathered on the runways of the former Loring Air Force Base for a concert by Phish, a four-member band from Vermont. Vehicles of every description from almost every state of the union jammed Aroostook County roads to and from Loring during the days before and after the concert.

The outside event had an estimated $25 million impact on the local economy.

“That was the time frame of last year’s concert,” said Brian Hamel, president of the Loring Development Authority of Maine, regarding the dates that reservations have been made at the hotels.

Hamel said Monday that the LDA has had “serious” and “positive” discussions with the promoter.

“We have not entered into any legal agreement with Phish,” Hamel said. He declined to discuss further details of the possible concert.

Any agreement would need to be endorsed by the LDA board of trustees, which will meet next on Feb. 4 in Augusta.

Adam Lewis, spokesman for the Boston promoter, said Monday that it was too early to comment on an August concert.

“Something may be in the works,” Lewis said.

Lewis confirmed that the discussions between the LDA and Great Northeast Productions have been about holding another Phish concert at Loring.

Phish’s Web site on the Internet said, “There are no confirmed 1998 Phish concert dates. As soon as there are any to announce, they will appear here.”

The Caribou Motor Inn and Convention Center and the Crown Park Inn, both in Caribou, said that rooms have been reserved from Aug. 13 through 17 by Great Northeast Productions. All of the 60 rooms at the Crown Park Inn have been reserved, according to the desk clerk on Monday.

Rooms also have been booked at Keddy’s Motor Inn in Presque Isle for August, although no exact dates were available from the desk clerk.

Officials at local chambers of commerce and municipal offices also have heard that Phish will return.

“My impression’s that it’s a done deal,” said Kirk Tibbetts, executive director of the Caribou Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Beaulieu, Limestone’s town manager, said that it “looks good” for a repeat performance.

“I hope they do come back,” Beaulieu said. “They put Maine on the map.”

Calls to the Maine State Police at the barracks in Houlton, which handled traffic control during last year’s concert, were referred to the LDA.

County Sheriff Ted St. Pierre said that he has heard rumors about the concert. He’s not very happy, however, about the loose attitude toward alcohol and drugs associated with the event.

“We preach D.A.R.E. and Project Graduation,” St. Pierre said, referring to drug education programs for young people. “For two days in August, we’re supposed to turn our backs.”

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