UMPI’s Phish Retrospective to include forum, exhibit, film

Posted Sept. 24, 2009, at 9:29 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:40 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Twelve years ago, a first-of-its-kind event was held at the former Loring Air Force Base that drew thousands of people and for a few days turned Limestone into the largest city in the state.

The 1997 event was called The Great Went and behind it was the American rock band Phish. The overnight-city phenomenon was repeated twice — in 1998 for the band’s Lemonwheel concert and in 2003 for the IT festival. The three concerts brought more than 200,000 concertgoers to northern Maine and pumped more than $25 million into the economy.

Starting Monday, a weeklong event at the University of Maine at Presque Isle will be held to reflect upon the three Phish concerts held in northern Maine, the creative energy surrounding them and their impact on Aroostook County.

The Phish Retrospective, co-organized by art professor Anderson Giles, Cultural Affairs Director Carol Ayoob and Reed Art Gallery Director Sandra Huck, will be held from Sept. 28 to Nov. 21.

Events include:

• A Phish Film, a documentary on the 2003 IT festival by Finchwillow Productions, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Wieden Auditorium.

• A Phish Forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, in the Campus Center. The forum will feature a discussion group on the three festivals and their many impacts on the northern Maine region.

• Brian Hamel, former director of the Loring Development Authority, will present a lecture on “The Who, What and Why of Phish” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, in the Campus Center. Hamel is expected to focus on what it took to bring Phish to Limestone.

• Talk by Kevin Shapiro, Phish’s official archivist, on the Phish Archives and the historical context of the band’s festivals in Maine at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, in the Campus Center.

• The Phish Retrospective will culminate with the opening reception of the Phish Retrospective Exhibition at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, in Reed Art Gallery. The collection will remain on display until Nov. 21.

For information about the retrospective, visit or contact Sandra Huck at 768-9611.