Relics from one of the largest concerts ever held in Maine’s history are getting a new venue.
Maine Cabin Masters, of reality TV fame, will restore the two large neon green figures known as the “IT Men.” The plywood figures were stationed on either side of the entrance to the 2003 IT Music Festival held by the band Phish, the famous genre-defying rock band originally formed in 1983 in Vermont. Once restored, the IT Men will take up residence at The Woodshed, a bar and event venue in Manchester owned by the Cabin Masters.
The IT Festival was the last of three concerts held at the Loring Air Force base in Limestone during the late 1990s and early 2000s by Phish, which has a devoted fan base — called “phans” — nationwide. The other two concerts were The Great Went and Lemonwheel. The concerts attracted tens of thousands of Phish fans, temporarily making the Aroostook County town the most populated area in Maine during the festivals.
For many Aroostook residents, the concerts are remembered for the economic boom they brought. The IT Festival brought in more than $8 million in ticket sales alone.
One person who had attended the festival was Ryan Eldridge — now a cast member on Maine Cabin Masters, a reality show that airs on the DIY Network in which they restore old cabins across the state.
“We’re big fans of Phish,” said Jen Reese, the business development manager for the Kennebec Cabin Company, which is owned by the Cabin Masters. “We did an episode with [Phish drummer] Jon Fishman on the show.”
Following the festivals, the giant green plywood figures, depicting two air traffic controllers, were dismantled to be restored and displayed at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 2009 as a reminder of Phish’s legacy in Aroostook County.
But exposure to the elements and safety concerns caused them to be taken down a decade later, and the university reached out to Phish fans on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in taking them.
When the Maine Cabin Masters expressed interest, the university knew the plywood figures would be in good hands.
“We had heard through the grapevine that UMPI was looking to rehome the IT Men,” Reese said. “I guess they received numerous people interested, but with the Cabin Masters, knowing that the men needed a lot of love to restore them and bring them back to their former glory, it seemed like the best bet.”
The figures will be restored before eventually being displayed at the Woodshed, likely sometime after the winter months. The Presque Isle university gave the figures to Maine Cabin Masters on Sept. 18 — exactly 12 years after it originally acquired them.