You can’t miss the big white tent outside Tanger Outlets in Riverhead. The annual East End Garden Festival hosted by Peconic Bay Medical Center kicked off Friday and continues through Sunday, May 19. Inside the tent, garden lovers can find thousands of flowers, both annuals and perennials, trees, shrubs and even sod donated by about two dozen local growers.
The festival began 24 years ago, originally created to benefit Central Suffolk Hospital. Three years ago, the Riverhead Rotary took over the event, which has raised over $1 million for the hospital since its inception.
Proceeds from the festival continue to benefit the hospital, Riverhead Rotary and, this year, Operation International, a nonprofit medical organization dedicated to saving lives and improving health care in underserved communities across the globe.
Dr. Rajesh Patel, a pulmonologist and associate director of intensive care at PBMC, has volunteered with Operation International for 20 years. Most recently, his team traveled to the Ivory Coast in April, providing hundreds of patients there with much-needed medical care.
“Indirectly, thousands more will benefit from the medical equipment and supplies that we left behind for them,” Dr. Patel said Monday.
In addition to providing surgical care, physicians who volunteer with Operation International work to train local doctors and build viable communities through running water, solar electricity, drip irrigation and sanitation, Dr. Patel said.
The medical team’s doctors represent a wide array of surgical specialties from general to plastics, ob-gyn, dental and pediatrics and will soon include orthopedics.
“The monies raised will change the lives of thousands of people across the world in ways you’d never imagine possible,” Dr. Patel said.
The East End Garden Festival will run daily through Sunday, May 19, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, call 631-548-6080 or visit pbmchealth.org.
Photo caption: The 24th annual East End Garden Festival runs through Sunday, May 19 at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead. (Courtesy photo)