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Southold Town Board rejects annual cider festival in Cutchogue

John Mingione of Setauket.

The core will have to be poured somewhere else this year.

The Southold Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday against approving a special events permit for Pour the Core, a cider festival that was again planned for Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.

The fourth annual event, which is organized by Starfish Junction Productions of Bay Shore, was being advertised for October 3.

At a work session Tuesday morning, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, who voted against issuing the permit last year, said he again is against allowing the festival to be held at the winery property and this time around he had enough support on the Town Board to reject the event.

Mr. Russell said he is concerned that the Cutchogue winery, which closed its tasting room in 2013 and leases the vines at its Main Road property, is turning into a venue for events that have no connection to the agricultural use of the land.

“There’s no operation there,” he said. “It’s just becoming a venue.”

In addition to Pour the Core, the property has also hosted the North Fork Craft Beer Festival and the Long Island Potato Festival, two other events organized by Starfish Junction. Those festivals have since moved to the former Calverton Links golf course in the Town of Riverhead, where they will be held Aug. 8 and 9.

In past years, Pour the Core featured hard cider tastings from area producers such as Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue. The event also featured live music and food vendors.

Because of the connection to an East End farm, the board voted 4-2 to approve the event last year with Mr. Russell and Councilman Bill Ruland voting in opposition. This time around other board members also expressed concern with the event.

“This does get beyond just pouring and tasting wine,” Councilman Jim Dinizio said, referencing the winery’s history as a tasting room operation.

Mr. Russell and Councilwoman Jill Doherty said they don’t believe Pour the Core is in line with the spirit of the special events code, which Mr. Russell said was designed with the intention that agricultural products grown on-site would be sold at these events.

“This does not seem to fit our events law,” Ms. Doherty said.

According to a previous review of the town’s data, tourists are being drawn to the area for more special events than ever before. Last year, 39 permits were issued, the highest total in the town’s history, according to online records.

However, board voted in favor Tuesday of an event permit allowing a mobile wildlife museum to host a summer camp on town property next month. Originally the board seemed set to reject the museum due to a lack of information about the museum and the short timeframe for approval, but Mr. Russell said the museum’s organizer gave the board more information before the vote.

Board members also approved a special events permit for the annual Harvest East End festival at McCall Wines in Cutchogue.

Caption: John Mingione of Setauket at the 2014 Pour the Core festival. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

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