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Phish fans get in the swim of things

Despite rains, concert is a go

COVENTRY, Vt. -- State Police and organizers of this weekend's Phish concerts tried to put the best face on the bad weather yesterday as rain pounded the area for the second day in a row, while fans of the jam band navigated a venue that had become a muddy bog.

''The show will go on, and the show will go on on time," said Adam Lewis, a spokesman for the concert promoter, Great Northeast Productions.

Lewis's comments at a news conference yesterday morning came as workers were putting the finishing touches on a concert stage across the road from the Newport State Airport, where thousands of fans were gathering on waterlogged fields to wait for Phish's final performances this weekend.

The band is scheduled to hit the stage tonight, and play three shows a day until the band's farewell gig late tomorrow night.

The gates for the show opened Thursday, and Vermont State Police Sergeant Bruce Melendy said yesterday afternoon that 23,000 fans had already congregated inside the airport as of midmorning. An additional 38,000 were stuck in traffic on local roads, and cars were backed up between 12 and 15 miles on nearby Interstate 91, Melendy said.

Downpours during parts of the day yesterday turned the airport grounds into a muddy mess, forcing fans and festival employees to devise various navigation methods.

Doing without shoes and walking barefoot seemed to be a popular choice.

By day's end, Phish fans got a sight of something they hadn't seen: sunshine. A few rays were visible on the horizon beyond a tent city of campers, lending a promise for clearer skies today.

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