Chamber won’t be looking to wrest control of 2011 Blues Festival from Vail-Leavitt

JOHN NEELY FILE PHOTO | Taking the stage at the 2010 Blues and Music Festival in downtown Riverhead.

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce will not be seeking to run the Riverhead Blues Festival in 2011, the Chamber’s incoming president, Janine Nebons, told the News-Review Monday.

In the run-up to the mid-July event, the Chamber — with support from downtown Business Improvement District —  made an unsuccessful push to take over the popular festival, which has been run by the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall since 2006.

At one point earlier this year, both the Chamber and Vail-Leavitt Music Hall had submitted permit applications with the town to hold the same festival at the same time.

Eventually, the Chamber relented and Vail-Leavitt, which runs the festival as a fundraiser for the non-profit music hall on Peconic Avenue, ran the festival.

“We’re not going down that road,” said Ms. Nebons, who is the general manager of Tanger Outlet Center and will take over as Chamber president next month.

Ms. Nebons said she would like to see the Chamber work more towards empowering businesses and helping them work cooperatively with government.

Vail-Leavitt president Bob Barta said earlier this month that if other organizations again tried to take over the festival in 2011, as was done in 2010, the group would consider moving the festival to another site outside of Riverhead.

He said the Eastern Campus of Suffolk Community College in Northampton was one location they would consider.

“If they are going to try and play that game again, we’re not into playing,” Mr. Barta had said. “The survival of a nonprofit, charitable, all-volunteer organization depends on the success of the festival.”

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