Residents will be able to sip a cold beer while listening to the sounds of the Riverhead Blues and Music Festival this year.
The Riverhead Town board met at their weekly work session on Thurday to discuss how to facilitate beer drinking at the festival, which, this year, is a fundraiser sponsored by the .
Onhand for the discussion were Vince Tria, treasurer of the Vail-Leavitt, and Rich Vandenburgh, founder of , the vendor that will be supplying the beer for the festivities.
Discussion centered on whether or not to serve alcohol in an enclosed beer garden, or to lift the ban on open containers on town property in the whole parking lot by the Peconic River for the event.
Insurance was a critical consideration, with the board debating whether or not a $5 million or a $2 million rider would be most prudent.
Concerns were also raised by Councilman Jim Wooten about Main Street eateries that serve alcohol. "When you're closing off the public parking lot for a two-day event and you bring in competitors for the businesses that are trying to survive there -- it's undue competition," Wooten said.
After a thorough discussion, Councilman John Dunleavy felt $5 million of insurance was excessive and the rest of the board agreed.
Vandenburgh discussed how the recent in Greenport handled the event, and said in that instance, a beer garden was created in ; the village board passed a resolution allowing limited open alcohol containers on Front and Main Streets in cordoned off areas, he said. Anyone hoping to enter the beer garden had to show ID. And the village did require additional insurance for the beer garden, he said.
But for the Blues Festival, Vandenburgh said he would not be interested in moving forward as a beer vendor if a beer garden were considered; utilizing the whole parking lot was preferable and the only way his company would participate, he said.
The board decided to ask each business on Main Street serving alcohol to provide a $2 million insurance policy, so patrons can drink beer on the decks of their properties and leave to stroll around the parking lot with alcohol.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said the town would be the certificate holder for insurance purposes.
In the past, when the event was run by the Business Improvement District, the event was free and attendees could bring coolers. This year, a one-day pass wil cost $15 and a two-day pass, $25, with proceeds to benefit the Vail-Leavitt. No coolers, backpacks or dogs will be allowed.
State troopers will be stationed at both entrances and security will patrol the event, Tria said.