Blues Festival called off; music moving indoors

Downtown Riverhead, Blues & Music Festival, Vail-Leavitt
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Robert Ross of NYC at the 2012 Blues Festival in June.

The Riverhead Blues Festival as we know it is no more.

At least for this year.

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall
Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

Bob Barta, president of downtown’s Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, confirmed Thursday theater officials did not submit an application to hold the two-day music festival on town property downtown.

The once-wildly popular festival, which has served as the historic theater’s chief fundraiser, will likely be restructured as a series of in-house events, tentatively scheduled for September, Mr. Barta said.

Mr. Barta said Vail-Leavitt officials hope to hold the festival outdoors in the future.

“We’re unsure at this point, but we’re trying to work things so that we can hopefully have it outdoors in coming years,” he said.

Mr. Barta said there were “a couple of factors involved” regarding Vail-Leavitt’s decision to call off the outdoor festival, but could not comment further at this time.

Initially run by the downtown Business Improvement District, the original Riverhead Blues Festival ran into financial troubles and for the past six years — save for another year it was canceled, in 2011 — the festival has been run as a fundraiser for the historic Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue.

The festival had traditionally been held in July until last year, when it moved to June and lost $8,720, Vail-Leavitt officials have said.

Theater officials had said in March they were hoping to hold a two-day outdoor event in September on the north side of Main Street.

The festival has always been held on the south side of Main Street.

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