Edgar Allan Poe and his Raven in the moonlight
Edgar Allan Poe and his Raven in the moonlight

Edgar Allan Poe may not have visited the streets of downtown Riverhead, but this Halloween, the writer’s ghoulish work will become a part of Riverhead’s living history.

Sal St. George, who created Port Jefferson’s Charles Dickens Festival, is planning two days of unusual events downtown beginning on Fri., Oct. 31 and continuing through the day on Nov. 1.

If you bear an uncanny resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe, you can enter in a look-alike contest. If you’re an actor looking for a project to sink your teeth into, Mr. St. George is hoping to create a play based on a hypothetical meeting between Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker at either the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall or the Suffolk Theater.

There will be a Monster Mash musical revue, a parade and trick or treating, an old-time radio show rendition of one of Poe’s works and Long Island authors will read from their favorite works of Poe. Mr. St. George presented his plan to the Riverhead Town Board at a work session July 31.

“I call what I do Sesame Street for adults,” he said. “People come in and watch a show and didn’t realize they were learning something. What we try to get them to do is be excited about history.”

Mr. St George said Halloween has become the second most popular holiday of the year, and Riverhead is primed to provide the services “to create the largest Halloween party on Long Island.”

“We can take over the entire town and beyond and create something exceptional,” he said.

The Riverhead Business Improvement District has already agreed to pay Mr. St. George $11,000 for his services getting the festival off the ground.

Mr. St. George plans to begin the festivities at 3 p.m. Friday with a parade and trick-or-treating, and continue on Saturday with programs between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

He’s hoping local actors will volunteer to get involved with the festivities.

Hello, North Fork Coffee Co.

The owners of the Hampton Coffee Company, which has three locations in Water Mill, Southampton and Westhampton Beach, are looking to expand to the North Fork.

They have their eyes on the former office of Go Solar on the Main Road in Aquebogue for a new coffee shop.

The proposed location of a new coffee shop on Route 25 in Aquebogue.
The proposed location of a new coffee shop on Route 25 in Aquebogue.

Hampton Coffee Company owner Jason Belkin said the shop plans to sell coffee, cappuccino and other coffee drinks, baked goods and paninis in a presentation to the Riverhead Town Board at the July 31 work session.

He also plans to build a concrete patio in front of the building, which is currently an asphalt driveway. The shop had been a gas station and a woodworking shop before it had been Go Solar’s headquarters.

A bistro or café is a special permitted use at the property, which is in a Rural Corridor zoning district, which would require approval from the town board.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, as if already anticipating the project’s success, said she’d like the plans referred to the state Department of Transportation, since the property is across Route 25 from Shade Tree Lane and the coffee shop may contribute to congestion.

Councilman John Dunleavy said there are plenty of delis up and down the Main Road, but there are no coffee shops.

“I don’t think it would be an over-intensive use,” said Councilman Jim Wooten.

“When are you going to open?” asked Councilman George Gabrielsen.

“As soon as we can,” said Mr. Belkin.

The town board agreed to schedule a public hearing on the special permitted use application.


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

3 thoughts on “Riverhead Gets Ready for the Literati: Edgar Allan Poe Fest and a Coffee Shop

  1. Sal St. George is my kind of guy! A visionary with the drive and gumption to put on this kind of event! Good luck! WIsh I could be there! Jeff Jerome, Curator Emeritus, former curator of the Poe House and Museum, Baltimore, Md.

  2. I have nothing to do with this festival but Poe is hot everywhere. Most of the Poe festivals, the ones that are quality, draw sell out crowds. Poe is not a Baltimore, RIchmond or Boston boy. He belongs to all of us. I think it’s a good idea to use Poe for this event.

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