Traffic was at a standstill on Sound Avenue Sunday afternoon in the area of the Nassau County 4-H Camp, where a music festival exceeded its maximum permitted attendance. Courtesy photo: Fred Terry.

A music festival Sunday at the Nassau County 4-H Camp in Baiting Hollow was shut down by the Town of Riverhead after it exceeded its maximum attendance limit and caused a major traffic jam on Sound Avenue.

Riverhead Police closed down Sound Avenue between Roanoke and Horton for a couple of hours Sunday afternoon to deal with the traffic buildup and clear the site, Police Chief David Hegermiller said.

The “Latin Music Festival” event, produced by the Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York, was limited to 1,000 people — the number stated in the March 31 application filed by the event promotor and by the terms of an April 19 town board resolution approving the application.

The number of attendees “well exceeded that amount” and caused traffic to back up on Sound Avenue when the volume of cars could not be parked on the 4-H Camp property, Hegermiller said.

Vehicles were parked on Sound Avenue after the parking area as the 4-H camp filled up and traffic was brought to a standstill Sunday afternoon in Baiting Hollow. Courtesy photo: Fred Terry.

Alex Garcia, director of the Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York, based in Yonkers, said in a phone interview Monday only 800 tickets were sold online before the event and an unexpected number of people showed up at the gate.

Dean Del Prete, an event promoter and producer himself, said he made the connection between Garcia and Nassau County Cooperative Extension, which owns the 4-H camp. Del Prete, who operated Long Island Sports Park in Calverton before the site was sold to a solar energy company, said he hosted the Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York events at his site “two or three times” without any trouble. Del Prete said he had produced events at the 4-H Camp himself in the past, so he made the introduction for Garcia.

Del Prete said he handled the parking for Sunday’s event. He knew the attendance limit was 1,000 people and was set up to park about 500 cars. He was not prepared for the number of cars that arrived, he said. “The site could handle it, but we weren’t set up for it,” Del Prete said.

“It was the perfect storm,” he said. “The weather was beautiful, a concert in Pennsylvania was canceled and I think this concert drew people who would have attended that one.” And the producer had popular bands performing: Calibre 50, Banda Carnaval and Cuarto De Milla.

“The music was vibrating the floor of my barn,” said neighboring resident Fred Terry, whose farm property is surrounded by the 4-H Camp site.

“You get a festival like that with the decibel levels like that — it really is not in keeping with the character of the area,” said Terry, a descendent of one of the first families of Baiting Hollow. “We’re trying to maintain the pristine nature of the area and I’m very protective of it,” he said.

“I think EPCAL or some other larger, accessible place other than the last country road in this town would be more appropriate,” Terry said. “Something of this magnitude should not be on Sound Avenue. he said.

The event Sunday was “utter and complete chaos,” with traffic backing up on Sound Avenue and people looking for off-site parking once the parking at the 4-H Camp filled up, according to Terry. Cars were driving onto his property. People were walking on his dirt road as he was trying to drive to Sound Avenue. “They gave me the finger,” he said.

Terry said he fears the camp property “could turn into a huge venue,” because of the income it could produce for a cash-strapped government-supported organization.

David Rolnick, president of the board of directors of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County, who signed the special event permit application on behalf of the site owner, said he was not at the site on Sunday but was told the event organizer exceeded the limit on the number of people allowed to attend the event.

“I guess they closed the gates and didn’t let any more people in and they got unruly and the police had to be called,” Rolnick said in an interview yesterday. He referred questions to the organization’s executive director, Greg Sandor. Sandor did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment.

“They were overcrowded and the police closed them down,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said Monday. “We have to maintain public safety and not let streets (get) blocked. “At any time if they pass their maximum approval population and it becomes a safety hazard, we will act on it,” Aguiar said.

The Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York on April 22 filed an application for a second Latin Music Festival at the 4-H Camp proposed for June 12. The event, featuring four Mexican bands, The town board has not yet acted on that application. The event is already being advertised on and tickets are being offered for sale on numerous websites.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.