For Phish fans, the longstanding jam band's Labor Day weekend concerts at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado have been a welcome tradition returning for eight years. But now, what should be a weekend of camping, body odor, and too-long guitar solos has been thrown into chaos by a plague outbreak. This isn't a bad innuendo about Phish's legion of fans descending upon a soccer stadium outside Denver: There are literally black-tailed prairie dogs carrying plague-infected fleas in the very area where Phishheads are hoping to tailgate in their drug rugs. The animals are afflicted with the sylvatic plague, which is caused by Yersinia pestis, the same bacteria that causes the bubonic plague. While modern medicine has made it treatable with antibiotics, it's still easily transferrable to humans.
As The Washington Post reports, officials have closed off sections of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge as workers have been "spending 16-hour days spraying the burrows with insecticides." While the neighboring venue Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will continue to host events, including the Phish residency, the outbreak has added several unexpected obstacles for the planned shows. Until recently, fans were kept in the dark about whether or not the diseased 'dogs would affect the performance. Speaking to the local FOX affiliate, one woman who bought a ticket from Pennsylvania lamented organizers "keeping thousands of people from all over the country in the dark" and said, "If this plague is such a big threat and they're being extra cautious, then they need to speak up sooner rather than later. I'm not sure what they're waiting for."
Phish has finally released a statement addressing all the concerns about this whole plague thing. As an extra measure of precaution, the Health Department banned parking at the venue anywhere besides its asphalt lots, meaning that camping on the event grounds will be prohibited. Because of this inconvenience, the band has arranged for fans to get discounted rooms at nearby hotels and shuttle access at neighboring parking lots.
Here's hoping that the only thing virally transmitted that weekend in Commerce City, Colorado is just chill, trippy vibes.