Greenport’s beloved Maritime Festival is back on for Oct. 21 and 22, but not without a little local rancor.
At Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Village Board, the board passed a resolution in support of rescheduling the event, but also heard from frustrated members of the village’s Business Improvement District.
Realtor Steven Karl, representing the BID, read a statement complaining that BID members were left out of the planning process for rescheduling the Maritime Festival by its organizer’s at East End Seaport Museum & Maritime Foundation.
“Neither the village nor the East End Seaport Museum made any effort to communicate with the BID … It may have been considerate to reach out to the village businesses for their opinion on the rescheduling and what they stand to experience by doing so. We all love the Maritime Festival and the energy it brings to the village in late September. Will hurriedly rescheduling this event — an event of this magnitude — prove to be an enhancement or a detriment to the future festivals? Accordingly, businesses have mixed responses to the reboot but will be open for all attendees both local and non-residents.”
Mr. Stuessi said he completely supported the rescheduled festival.
“While the village doesn’t organize this, the village has played a supporting role for three decades on this. [Southold Town] Police Chief [Martin] Flatley was one of the original organizers. And I know much of the community was extremely disappointed when the weather was such that it couldn’t happen. And so I think it’s the right thing to do. And I know the museum is doing what they can to try and pull it together. And I would encourage any businesses that want to participate, to participate. If you don’t want to participate, don’t participate. But it’s a great way to bring people together. And I think it was noble of the museum to organize so quickly and try and bring as many vendors as they can back.”
Board member Mary Bess Phillips said she didn’t understand the complaint.
“I am a little curious as to why the BID is objecting to this … because October is not a busy, busy time, we have the Halloween Festival Parade, which is the next weekend. But usually October, you’re looking for some type of events to be here. So I’m curious as to why we’re objecting to this. Somebody answer that, for me, considering that [I am] a member of BID, and this is the first I’m hearing of it.”
BID board member Kim Loper responded.
“I don’t think we’re objecting,” she told the board. “I think we’re just saying that there should be a little bit more thought process. And maybe there’s a risk that if businesses do, like restaurants, start buying food again and everything. And then there is another crap [weather] weekend without another rain date in place. I personally think it might tarnish the museum more than the businesses. Because I was told that if all the [approved] vendors can’t make it, they’re going to take the rejected ones. And then if those people come, what’s going to happen next year? Are they going to fight over who gets seniority and placement?”
“The festival was canceled,” Ms. Phillips replied. “It was a big thing for everybody … I’m not sure why the BID didn’t reach out to the Maritime Museum and say, ‘let’s see what we can do together.’ I’m sorry, I have to say that.’”
Ms. Loper replied that “it’s on them to include us.”
East End Seaport Museum & Maritime Foundation board member and former chairman Paul Kreiling told the board that “one of the reasons for delayed communication was in fact getting permission from the village, looking at logistics with [Chief] Flatley, and seeing if it was possible,” Mr. Kreiling said. “To say that we are actually going to do it, without permission, would be jumping the gun. I understand that we should have communicated more with the BID. My bad. I hope everyone will support us as we continue this maritime festival. It will be of a smaller [size], it will not be as grand, but we hope that the village gets behind us and we can, in fact have the parade and have the things that make the Maritime Festival a highlight of the village this year.”
In the 34 years since the festival began, this is the first time the “rain or shine” event has been cancelled due to weather. The only other time the festival was called off was in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.