Permit application filed for Blues Festival

JOHN NEELY FILE PHOTO | Performers at the 2010 festival.

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall has submitted a permit application for the 2012 Riverhead Blues Festival Tuesday in hopes of bringing the popular event back to downtown Riverhead.

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to approve the application at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“We’re hoping to make it bigger and better,” said Vail-Leavitt treasuer Vince Tria, who owns WRIV 1390 AM on West Main Street. “We’re going to start very early this year so there’s no excuses.”

The festival, which was called off in 2011 after a prolonged 2010 battle for control of the festival between Vail-Leavitt officials and other downtown business owners, is planned for the weekend of June 16 and 17.

Mr. Tria spoke with the Town Board at a Jan. 5 work session, during which board members said they would work with Vail-Leavitt to get the festival approved.

“Let’s make this work,” Supervisor Sean Walter said during the meeting.

Mr. Tria said the one big challenge the group faces is acquiring insurance in a timely manner. Vail-Leavitt, which in the past has used the Blues Festival as its chief fundraiser, needs about $3,000 to insure the event, money that has to be in place 120 days in advance, as the Town Code requires.

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said the town will still require the insurance in advance of the event, but will allow it to be submitted after the 120 days.

“We’re going to extend some courtesies to allow the insurance after the time period required,” he said Tuesday.

Mr. Tria said the group hopes to have the insurance money at least 30 days before the festival.

Two years ago, the Business Improvement District and the Chamber of Commerce sought to take over the management of the Blues Festival from Vail-Leavitt, and Mr. Walter backed that effort. Eventually, the groups backed off and Vail-Leavitt held the event.

Last year, Vail-Leavitt opted not to have an event, fearing they would again meet with opposition.

There had been a war of words between the leader of the BID and the Vail-Leavitt during that time, although BID president Ray Pickersgill vowed to support the Vail-Leavitt effort this month.

“We don’t want a conflict,” Mr. Pickersgill said at the Jan. 5 meeting.

Mr. Tria said he’s not looking for conflicts either.

“I met with Mr. Walter and I told him, ‘When I was 79, I enjoyed the fight,'” Mr. Tria said Tuesday. “Now that I’m 80, I just want to forget yesterday and avoid the fight.”

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