BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO
The Riverhead Blues & Music Festival draws some 10,000 to 20,000 people downtown over the course of two days each summer.
The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall appears poised to keep control of the Riverhead Blues & Music Festival, a two-day concert bash it has run along the Peconic River for the last four years.
The future of the popular event had fallen into doubt after a politically charged fight over control of the festival spun into what could have been a devastatingly prolonged stalemate.
“I’m a happy camper,” Vince Tria, event organizer and treasurer of the Vail-Leavitt nonprofit group said Friday after a meeting with Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Bob Lanieri of the Chamber of Commerce.
Both the Vail and chamber groups had submitted permits with the Town Board to run the event, which draws between 10,000 and 20,000 music lovers downtown each year, depending on the weather.
“I’m a happy camper,” Mr. Tria repeated. “But guess what? It’s over. And I think in one sense we all came out winners.”
Under the proposed agreement, the Vail-Leavitt would run the festival and the Chamber of Commerce would help in trying to garner corporate sponsorships, Mr. Tria said.
Although the Town Board won’t vote on whether to approve the Vail-Leavitt’s permit application until Tuesday’s 2 p.m. meeting, Mr. Walter said he was hopeful an agreement had been reached.
“I feel very good. I thought we had this settled once before. But I think we’re in good shape,” Mr. Walter said, declining to comment further until Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. “Everyone has to go to their respective boards now for approval.”
Both Mr. Tria and Mr. Lanieri expressed confidence in each of their boards to agree to the deal.
“We weren’t trying to take the Vail-Leavitt down,” Mr. Lanieri said of his group’s application to run the event. “We just wanted to make it better for all downtown, and uptown for that matter. We felt these people that have businesses on Main Street should have some input; they’re there all year.”
Chamber volunteers will be pushing for corporate sponsorships, Mr. Lanieri confirmed, while also running some booths during the July 17 and 18 event.
“And whatever else it takes so that downtown prospers,” he said. “I think we came up with an agreement to move forward so that the festival didn’t turn into a non-festival.” CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS COVERAGE.