Organizers of the popular Riverhead Blues Festival said last month they were considering a change in venue, possibly to Suffolk Community College’s Eastern Campus in nearby Northampton, in light of the difficulties they had last year when the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce sought to take over the popular event.
But it doesn’t appear as if the college is on the same page.
A representative at Suffolk Community College, Mary Lou Araneo, told the News-Review Friday there “are no ongoing discussions and no plans to hold the festival at the college’s Eastern Campus.”
So does that mean the Blues Fesival will be held downtown and run by the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall nonprofit group as its chief fundraiser, as has been the case since 2006? Officials on the board of the Vail-Leavitt group, president Bob Barta and treasurer Vince Tria declined to comment.
For weeks before last year’s scheduled July festival, Vail-Leavitt officials repeatedly butted heads with Chamber members as well as Business Improvement District officials. The groups together, with the political backing of the town supervisor, tried to force the Vail-Leavitt group to abdicate control of the two-day fair.
The Vail-Leavitt group eventually got the go-ahead.
Mr. Barta told the paper in December: “If they are going to try and play that game again, we’re not into playing. The survival of a nonprofit, charitable, all-volunteer organization depends on the success of the festival, so I need to be sure that we’re going to mimimize the impact of outside forces … I’d like to see it continue downtown.”
Janine Nebons, the Chamber’s newly elected president, had told the News-Review in December the Chamber will not seek to run the Blues Festival this year.