Just over the Mason Dixon Line, this festival venue has been hosting events for D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania for over a decade; however, recent reports of viral outbreaks at the venue have festival goers very worried.
Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemis, Pennsylvania is an incredibly popular festival venue for event organizers in the DMV area; the farm is designated an "Interfaith Sanctuary" and is a non-profit member-run campground. A hippie and Pagan retreat of sorts, the venue is preferred by many in the area because it has running water spigots, showers, and toilets throughout the grounds. It also has easily accessible car-camping, all beside a beautiful river in the Allegheny mountains.
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Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary is located just over the Mason Dixon line, making it easily accessible to folks from all over the DMV[/caption]
Ironically, is may be these exact features that have landed the festival venue in some very hot, very stinky, water.
The weekend of June 15-18, The Mad Tea Party Jam 6 was hosted at Four Quarters Farm. By Sunday morning, reports of horrifying conditions began to emerge from festival attendees. The event page on Facebook
has become an active forum for complaints as attendees report ambulance rides, hospital visits, and over 20 hours of illness after an apparent viral outbreak.
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A flyer for the Mad Tea Party Jam; note it says headliner Papadosio was to play three sets. They only played two after over half their band members fell violently ill.[/caption]
Three out of five members of one of the headlining bands fell ill, resulting in the cancelation of their final performance. Many of those who fell ill were artists, managers, and staff, all of whom would have been given access to meals cooked by the Four Quarters staff in Four Quarters kitchen facilities. One attendee, Ona Hogarty, was taken straight to the emergency room from the festival venue; Hogarty told NYS Music
that she was given a diagnosis of dysentery, "is often given as a broad term diagnosis to stomach viruses accompanied by bloody stools."
Many online reports point to Norovirus, but with so many accounts pouring in online it is difficult to verify. Hogarty, among other attendees, have undergone medical testing and are awaiting the results of tests on stool, urine, blood, and bile samples that will possibly shed some light on the cause of the illness. The illness was apparently very widespread, one EMS worker saying her crew treated nearly 100 people at the festival venue itself. One Facebook user wrote
"[she] could sit at [her] campsite and hear people throwing up in all directions."
While the cause of the outbreak is still being debated among attendees and the event organizers, The Mad Tea Party Jam released the following statement:
Despite our best efforts to maintain the health safety of our patrons, people were falling ill. We ourselves are seeking any and all answers. The Pennsylvania Center of Epidemiology has been contacted by the venue in order to properly ascertain what has happened this past weekend. In order to better understand and identify the issue and better yet, how to fix this issue, we are openly asking people to report their own health issues to the Pennsylvania board of health. Please call this number in order to aid us. 1-877-PA HEALTH
We will be posting more information as it is received."
The Pennsylvania Board of Health is becoming increasingly involved, as an event at Four Quarters the weekend before had a similar outbreak. At the Wickerman Burn Festival June 8-11, many attendees reported the exact same intestinal issues in the event's Facebook event
and the public Wickerman group.
Last summer, reports of stomach viruses arose
after another festival there called Big Dub. Big Dub is slated to go on
again at Four Quarters, July 26-30, and warnings are already beginning to spread throughout the event page.
Four Quarters has been quick to defend itself. Their Facebook page
has been flooded by positive reviews from lovers of the festival grounds in an attempt to drown out the many negative reviews from Mad tea Party attendees. According to the Four Quarters Website,
The camp and its buildings; [its] sewage, water and power systems; the equipment used for building and maintenance; are all owned by the non-profit corporation. Forever removed from the cycle of private ownership, Four Quarters can never become a housing development, involved in an inheritance dispute, or sold for profit."
Regardless, there is something very bad happening on these festival grounds. If you're from Maryland, D.C., Virginia, or Pennsylvania, think twice before attending an event at Four Quarters; if you decide to go, bring your OWN water, food and proper storage, and personal sanitation supplies. But really, it would be much easier to just stay away.
Have you attended an event at Four Quarters? What did you think? Who is to blame for the repeated outbreak of illnesses?