It’s official: Vail-Leavitt keeps the Riverhead Blues Festival

05/04/2010 12:00 AM |

The Riverhead Town Board on Tuesday unanimously passed a permit application allowing the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall to run the 2010 Riverhead Blues & Music Festival along the Peconic River this summer.
Until Friday it was not clear who would be granted the permit, the Vail-Leavitt, which has run the show since 2006, or the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, which had filed a competing application to run the event.
A tentative deal was reached Friday, as reported at, that would have kept control of the show with the Vail-Leavitt, with the chamber running some booths and trying to help in attracting corporate sponsorship.
But before the permit vote Tuesday, Robert Lanieri, president of the chamber’s board of directors, passed a letter to Town Board members saying the group would have no involvement in the show.
The letter stated that the chamber board voted against partaking, citing a perceived “lack of transparency” in the proposed financial arrangement between the chamber and the Vail-Leavitt, according to a chamber press release Mr. Lanieri gave a reporter as he left Town Hall. The release offered no details.
As was expected, the chamber group withdrew its permit application.
“We in the chamber are always ready to showcase downtown’s businesses and overall potential and we look forward to partner with others in future community ventures,” read a quote attributed to Mr. Lanieri, the catering and special events coordinator at Atlantis Marine World aquarium in Riverhead.
The special event permit approved in Town Hall waives permit fees and the prohibition on alcohol for the July 17-18 festival. It also includes a clause requiring the Vail-Leavitt to show a detailed statement of profits or losses within 60 days after the show.
Unlike with most other events downtown and elsewhere in Riverhead, the Vail-Leavitt charges people to attend the Blues Festival, which costs $50,000. The nonprofit group then uses the some $20,000 it makes in profits to run its downtown theater of the same name, Vail-Leavitt officials have said.
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