There will be free concerts in Grangebel Park on three Friday nights in August after all, thanks to the efforts of former BID executive director Diane Tucci.
Tucci said she was distressed to learn that the Friday night concert series, a longtime summer staple in downtown Riverhead, had been canceled this year due to lack of financial sponsorships.
Tucci said she didn’t realize the concerts were not going to take place until she read about it in RiverheadLOCAL.
“I didn’t want to see us lose anything else in downtown,” Tucci said. “I had to do something.”
With a background in the music industry and event planning, Tucci said she was confident she could get produce at least concerts in the park this summer.
Through word of mouth and with the help of a GoFundMe page, Tucci raised money for three concerts, which will take place Aug. 16, 23 and 30 in Grangebel Park.
Road Trip will perform Aug. 16, Truck Stop Gypsies plays on Aug. 23 and the Bobby Nathan Band will perform Aug. 30. All concerts start at 7 p.m.
“I believe we should have more, not fewer, events downtown,” Tucci said. “Maybe not on the scale of Alive on 25, but there should be an event going on downtown every week,” said Tucci, who organized the popular summer street festival, as well as the Halloween Festival and the cardboard boat races during her tenure as executive director of the BID Management Association.
“Events bring people downtown and develop its brand,” she said.
Still, Tucci said, she understands how volunteers in various organizations “get burned out” which can lead to the demise of even popular events like the downtown concert series.
“I thought I should try to help save it,” Tucci said.
The Friday night concert series, presented by Townscape, was for many years organized by former councilman Jim Lull. After he passed away in 2012, Councilman James Wooten took over as concert series coordinator beginning in 2013. Since then, the concert series moved from its longtime location on the grounds of the East End Arts Council to the newly renovated Grangebel Park. Last year, for the first time, the series took place at the Polish Town Civic Association pavilion on Lincoln Street. Wooten said lack of nearby parking made the Grangebel Park location problematic.
This year, the series was canceled for lack of funding, Townscape president Tom Farruggia said. “We weren’t getting the financial support from the community to continue with the concerts,” he said. The organization decided instead to focus on its original mission, the beautification of downtown Riverhead.
Wooten has sponsored a concert by the country-western band Southbound on Friday, Aug. 2 at the Polish Town pavilion. It will begin at 7 p.m.
Concert-goers, regardless of concert location, should bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
Tucci said she was blown away by people and businesses who stepped up with donations to support the concerts. “It was really awesome,” she said.
Tucci stepped down from her post with the BIDMA to concentrate on her campaign for Riverhead Town Board in this November’s general election.
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