Poe festival likely returning in 2015


There were plenty of frights in Riverhead for the start of the Edgar Allen Poe Festival. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
There were plenty of frights in Riverhead for the start of the Edgar Allan Poe Festival. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

The Edgar Allan Poe Festival looks like it will be doing an encore next year around Halloween.

Riverhead Town Board members discussed the possibility of doing the festival again next year at their work session Thursday with Sal St. George, who organized the event, and Ray Pickersgill, the president of the Business Improvement District Management Association, which sponsored it.

The informal verdict of the board was clear: do it again.

“I’m all for it for next year,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “Let’s get started.”

This year’s festival, a first in Riverhead, was a three-day weekend event and town officials and organizers said it was very successful despite pouring rain on the Saturday and Sunday.

“We’d love to do it again next year,” said Mr. Pickersgill. “I went to all the businesses on Main Street to see what their thoughts were and they were all very positive. They’d like to see it again next year.”

The event was organized on only about two months notice, Mr. Pickersgill said, adding that such an event should have far more time to plan. Initially, he said, Mr.  St. George planned to have the festival next year, but Mr. Pickersgill suggested it could be done this year.

The festival kicked off with a parade on the Friday night.

“That parade just blew me away,” Mr. St. George said. “We had people showing up that just wanted to be in the parade.”

The “Thriller” flash mob at the end of the parade, which emulated the Michael Jackson song and video, made five stops along the parade route, and each time more people joined, Mr. St. George said.

By the time it reached the end of the parade, in front of the Suffolk Theater, there were hundreds of people, he said.
Mr. St. George’s son, Darren, also dressed as Edgar Allan Poe and visited the kids in the Riverhead High School and Middle School. He said more than a hundred people volunteered at the festival.

“When we went into the schools, these kids went nuts when Poe walked into the classes,” Mr. St. George said.

One man showed up in a hearse and asked if he could be in the parade, Mr. St. George said. They also had people in monster costumes and a horse-riding man dressed as the headless horseman — despite the fact that “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a Washington Irving story, not one by Poe.

In addition to the parade, and the showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Suffolk Theater, the festival also featured story tellers and readers in various restaurants throughout downtown.

“Every place that had a reader was mobbed,” said BIDMA member Bill Allan.

Mr. St. George said he’d like to plan some new events for next year, such as a radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” the 1938 Orson Welles broadcast that had many people at the time believing it was real.

“Considering the bad weather this year, it can only get better next year,” Councilman Jim Wooten said.