KES Steps Up at the Aptly Named Curveball Phish Festival
November 15th, 2018
One of the biggest challenges for Kel Executive Services (KES) this season was a festival that didn’t happen. Curveball, the 18th Phish Festival scheduled for August 17 to 19, literally threw everyone a curve ball as it was cancelled due to severe flooding in Schuyler County and the declaration of a state of emergency. The water treatment plant that serviced water to the Village of Watkins Glen, New York, including the Curveball site, was contaminated leaving the water supply unsafe for consumption.
The entire site was set up and ready to go after months of planning and execution. Phish band members received the news on Thursday, August 16, from the New York State Department of Health as they were about to do their traditional sound check jam. About 10,000 fans had already arrived for early bird camping the day before. KES staff, already on high alert because of the weather, shifted gears to get all the fans evacuated. The campers were given 24 hours to rest as many had traveled long distances.
KES switched their around-the-clock security work from running a festival to supervising a safe evacuation of band members and crew, fans, equipment, and some 500 security personnel from four different companies. The site was safely cleared by mid-day Saturday.
“The Phish family was devastated by the news,” said Frank Keller, CEO and president of KEL, “and we were, too. We have been at every Phish festival since the beginning and are proud to be a part of the dedicated team that conceives and presents these festivals. But safety of fans is always a Number One priority of KES, the band, and the local officials who issue site permits. There was nothing anyone could do but get to work dealing with the evacuation and see that everyone returned home safely.”