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In online message, Phish urges fans to respect Vt.

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Phish has a message for fans planning to attend the band's big farewell festival in Coventry next month: Don't mess with Vermont.

The band posted a message Thursday on its website, www.phish.com, noting that the Northeast Kingdom is ''a region of unspoiled rural beauty and small, tight-knit communities" and asking that fans treat Vermont with respect.

In an interview Friday afternoon, drummer Jon Fishman said it was very important to the band that its last show, performed in its home state, go smoothly.

''The most important thing to us about Coventry is that this thing comes off well and everybody respects that area," Fishman said, after giving a drum workshop to a group of teenagers in Burlington. ''Of all the gigs that we would ever do in our whole lives, and of all the places to end on a positive note, this is the one that's most meaningful to us."

Members of Phish have lived in the Burlington area for more than two decades. ''To be able to begin and end in Vermont, and have it all go well, is so important," Fishman said.

Phish noted in capital letters on its website, ''If you don't have a ticket, please don't come to Coventry." All 70,000 tickets for the Aug. 14-15 event have been sold, and because Coventry will be the popular touring band's final concert, demand for tickets has exceeded expectations.

The band will broadcast all six sets on satellite radio, which will also carry ''The Bunny," the festival's own radio station. Phish will transmit a high-definition video feed of all six sets to select Regal movie theaters around the country.

The band wants fans to carpool to save gas and limit traffic congestion, and to leave the site as spotless as possible, as much of the campground is on farmland usually left for grazing cattle or growing corn.

''This is your last chance to show the rest of the world what makes the Phish audience so unique," the band wrote. ''We love living in Vermont and plan to do so for many years to come. The greatest gift each of you can give the four of us as we move on to the next phase of our lives would be to do your part to help leave a positive lasting impression with the people of our home state."

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