By Executive Editor, Lenn Thompson
The issue is a complex one, but the recent skirmish centers on the various events that local wineries are using to draw crowds -- and their tourism money -- to the East End. Are these events within local codes?
It depends on who you ask, but a handful of wineries received cease and desist notices recently for things like serving oysters in their tasting room, pouring wine at a local farmstand and having fitness classes in their vineyard.
The Fest is something that I've been looking forward to for some time -- a family friendly day-long event in wine country that combines two of the Thompson family's favorite things: wine and music.
According to Jim Silver, general manager of Peconic Bay Winery where the two-day festival will take place, organizers went through all of the proper channels from the beginning "We submitted our request for a permit to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and it was approved quickly," he said, adding "There are concerns in and amongst the community that the size and scope of the festival is greater than anyone anticipated, but we have effectively addressed any concerns raised and are confident that the NOFO will be a success on every level and result in a positive for the community."
The winery has invested the time (and money) to fence off the areas that border their neighbors and made eight acres of open space available for parking. "The police and the town have been briefed extensively on our plans as well and the Southold Town police have been particularly helpful," Silver said.
"I think everyone understands that this is a quality event, well planned and designed for peaceful music lovers and supporters of cultural events."
Lost in the misinformation flying around about the event is the fact that it will benefit the East End Arts Council, a great organization that was chosen because it "supports musical education projects for children" according to Silver, who wouldn't quote a dollar figure or percentage for the contribution, only saying that it will be a "meaningful contribution."
I'm planning to spend Sunday at Peconic Bay Winery enjoying gorgeous weather, great music and an even better time with my family and friends. If you're going, let me know and we'll have a glass of wine or a pint of beer together.