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Facing Phish facts

By Fritz Mayer
May 4, 2011

The list of businesses that have already benefitted from the scheduled Phish concerts include Creekside Cabins in Roscoe, Days Inn in Liberty and the Sat Nam Inn-Bed & Breakfast in Hurleyville, all of which are listed as sold out for Memorial Day weekend.

Some rooms and camp sites, however, are still available. Many are listed in the Phish Guide at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website, www.bethelwoodscenter.org.

And residents in the Town of Bethel have the option of getting a permit to allow them to have four camping or tent spaces on their property, which can be used for guests.
The temporary permits have existed for years; this year the town imposed a $50 fee on them.

Roy Howard and Jeryl Abramson, who for several years held unofficial Woodstock reunions at their farm on Route 17B, have five parcels in the town and, according to Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm, they also now have five permits, which allows them a total of 20 tents or campers on their property.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons that former supervisor Harold Russell, a well-known dairy farmer in town, is so concerned about what will happen once the Phish weekend actually arrives. Russell lives next door to Howard and Abramson, and battled alongside other town officials for about eight years to prevent the couple from holding the annual three-day parties at their place.

At one such planned event in August 2006, Russell and other town board members, as well as police officials, stood at the gate to the property and personally turned away would-be campers, successfully putting an end to the events.

Now, the Phish weekend is coming and Russell is concerned. He stood up at the town meeting on April 28 and said he feared that Route 17B would be so crowded over the weekend that he wouldn’t be able to take his tractor on it, and that would further set him back in a season that has already put farmers three weeks behind schedule because of heavy rains.

Councilman Bob Blais said that town officials had recently met with representatives from Bethel Woods, as well as law enforcement agencies and others involved with the effort, and he was increasingly convinced that the weekend is going to go well.

Some 16,000 tickets have been sold for each of the three concerts, and people without tickets will not be allowed to turn onto Hurd Road, the approach to Bethel Woods from 17B.