Blues Festival losses were higher than expected

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Gary Utah on vocals and percussion performing with the Bobby Nathan band and Joanne and Bobby Nathan (far left) at 2012’s Riverhead Blues and Music Festival.

The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall’s board of directors now knows exactly how much money the nonprofit group lost on the 2012 Riverhead Blues Festival: $8,720.

“It was a little more than we expected,” said Vail-Leavitt president Bob Barta.

Board members had estimated losses to be between $7,000 and $8,000.

The Blues Festival is a fundraiser for the nonprofit, which operates the historic downtown theater of the same name, and this is the first time it’s ever lost money, according to Mr. Barta, although no festival was held last year.

The Vail-Leavitt board members have said the event’s timing — which coincided with the Mattituck Strawberry Festival, the Shelter Island 10K race and several other regional events, as well as Father’s Day — was part of the problem.

The festival has traditionally been held in July but was moved to June this year to beat the normally oppressive July heat.

Vail-Leavitt officials have sworn to revamp their fundraising strategy, and if they continue with an annual blues event they will likely have to move it from the downtown Riverhead parking lot due to parking issues.

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