After being cancelled for the first time in 12 straight years, the Blues Festival is coming back to downtown Riverhead in 2012.
Treasurer of the Vince Tria said the popular two-day event will return to downtown in mid-June, with preliminary dates set for June 16 and 17.
Tria, the former President of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, announced the festival's return at the Town Board work session meeting on Thursday during a BID Management Association presentation on their plans for the year. Both Town Supervisor Sean Walter and BID President Ray Pickersgill said they didn't want to conflict with the dates for the festival.
Walter said that even though the Tria hasn't submitted his application yet, the town would hold the date for the festival.
"You want the date, the date is yours," he said.
In 2011, the after objections from Pickersgill and the town when the Vail-Leavitt began charging for the event, which used to be free, starting with $5 per person five years ago and increasing it to $10 three years ago. Pickersgill, a former member of the Vail-Leavitt board, demanded the theater "open their books" and contended that since the Vail-Leavitt uses services from the town such as police overtime during the event, they shouldn't charge for attendance.
“As a taxpayer of Riverhead, I’m already paying for the privilege to the tune of $60,000,” Pickersgill said in February last year. “Why do I have to pay twice? And why do my tax dollars have to subsidize this organization when I’m already subsidizing it? Because Vail-Leavitt pays absolutely no taxes, not even special district taxes.”
However, at Thursday's meeting, Pickersgill said he would make sure that the BID's events in June wouldn't interrupt the Vail-Leavitt's plan.
"We don't want to conflict," Pickersgill said.
Tria told the board that he doesn't have the insurance required to submit his Chapter 90 application, which is used to approve special events. Tria said he needs the town's approval on his application before January so that he can start booking musicians for the shows.
Councilman Dunleavy suggested the town approve the festival's application contingent on the Vail-Leavitt obtaining the necessary insurance, but Walter said the town code wouldn't allow it.
Walter asked Tria to speak to his insurance company to put down money on an insurance payment plan so the Vail can submit the application this month. Walter added if the company is uncooperative, Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio will work with the Vail-Leavitt to make the festival work.
"You do your stuff, we'll get it done," Walter said.