Competing applications for downtown Riverhead concerts — again

The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall has applied for permits with Riverhead Town to hold two downtown festivals this summer at dates, times and locations that are in direct competition with events being planned by leaders of the rival Business Improvement District management association.

One of Vail-Leavitt’s events is even being dubbed a tribute to New Orleans and is scheduled for the same day the BID had made plans for a Mardi Gras-themed festival. And while BID officials had previously discussed these dates and events publicly, it didn’t formally file applications for them until Friday, three days after Vail-Leavitt filed its applications.

Nonetheless, Supervisor Sean Walter said that since the BID has publicly discussed its events with the Town Board, which issues the approvals, he considers those dates taken by the BID. He also said he will try to help Vail-Leavitt find alternate dates for its events.

BID president Ray Pickersgill said he believed the Vail-Leavitt leaders chose the duplicate dates out of spite.

Vail-Leavitt president Bob Barta did not return a call seeking comment.

The BID also filed applications for a number of other events it plans to hold downtown.

Last year, Vail-Leavitt and the Chamber of Commerce, which was working with the BID, both filed applications to hold a blues festival at the same time and location. The Chamber eventually backed off.

This year, Vail-Leavitt, which had run the Blues Festival since 2006, initially indicated it was looking for another location for the festival, but ultimately issued a statement saying it would not hold the riverfront festival this year and would instead hold a series of smaller fundraising events in the music hall.

The BID, meanwhile, had said it would not schedule any events for the July 16 weekend, when the Blues Festival is normally held. But after Vail-Leavitt leaders announced they would not hold the Blues Festival, the BID moved forward with plans for an oldies concert on that date. That concert, to be named in honor of former supervisor Joe Janoski, was to feature three bands and run from 5:30 to 11 p.m.

The BID also had made plans for a downtown Mardi Gras festival on Aug. 6, a one-day event that some felt could fill the void left by the Blues Festival. It is slated to include a parade and floats, crawfish boils and jazz bands throughout downtown Riverhead, according to the application, which said the festival would run from noon to 11 p.m.

Last Tuesday, Vail-Leavitt filed applications to hold its own event Aug. 6 — the same day as the Mardi Gras — called “From River to River: Vail-Leavitt’s Tribute to New Orleans.” It is proposed to run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., also in downtown Riverhead.

Vail-Leavitt also filed an application to hold “live musical entertainment” on July 16, the same day as the BID oldies show, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., also in the riverfront parking lot. The application doesn’t specify what type of music is planned.

“It’s public knowledge that we’re having these concerts on those dates,” Mr. Pickersgill said, pointing out that the dates have been discussed publicly and reported in the press. “The only reason they did it is for spite.”

He said musical acts must be booked well in advance and require deposits.

The BID also filed applications to hold its weekly Cruise Night car shows on Thursdays beginning May 5. This year, there also will be live music at the car shows, Mr. Pickersgill said. Other planned BID events include an antique show on June 4, the Cardboard Boat Race on June 26, an Independence Day celebration with three bands and fireworks on July 3, Music Idol on July 25 and a Country and Western Concert on Aug. 30 — all in the riverfront parking lot.

“I wish nothing but the best for Vail-Leavitt and I will do anything in my power to help them succeed,” Mr. Walter said. “But the Town Board has been working on these BID events since January. Those dates are taken. We will offer some other dates to Vail-Leavitt and I hope to sit down and talk with them about it.”

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