“There are combinations of very simple natural objects that have the power of thus affecting us.” — Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
Sal St. George of Medford, the creative mind behind Riverhead’s first Edgar Allan Poe festival, hopes that line rings true when the event kicks off Friday, Oct. 31.
St. George said he’s been working on the three-day festival, which will feature parades, performances and live readings, for five years.
“It is a town with spirit,” he said of his decision to host the event in Riverhead. “There’s an energy here. There is an internal energy within the local government and the Business Improvement District to keep the community growing, and that’s what attracted me to this area.”
Plans for the festival are now in full swing, with volunteers, dancers and storytellers all preparing for what St. George said he hopes will be a grand production.
Here are just a few of the highlights of the festival, which runs Oct. 31 to Sunday, Nov. 2, that you won’t want to miss.
• Kids of all ages are invited to “Trick or Treat on Main Street” from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 31. Costumed characters will be on hand to help keep children safe.
• A Poe-inspired kickoff parade from 6 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 will feature characters like the headless horseman from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” witches, ghouls and magical pumpkins. Just about any character is welcome for this “night of fright,” so St. George said to be sure to show off a costume of your own.
• Artifacts from the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Va., will be on display at Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead beginning Monday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m., until Sunday, Nov. 9. There will be a free opening night reception Oct. 10 with wine and cheese.
• Throughout the festival, authors will read aloud Poe classics, children’s books and their own stories at area businesses.
• On Saturday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 2, the Long Island Science Center will offer “scary” tours.
• The Suffolk Theater will play “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” the evening of Friday, Oct. 31, with a dance party following the movie. On Sunday, Nov. 2, the theater will play a double feature of the “House of Usher” (1960) and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” which both star Vincent Prince. Price’s daughter Victoria will be on hand to speak about her father’s acting roles and his fascination with Poe.
• Throughout the weekend, restaurants will offer food and beverage options from a Poe-inspired menu. Several businesses, including the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center and Dark Horse Restaurant, plan to host Halloween brunches, dinners, or after-parties.
• Calling all monsters! Dance performances to the “Monster Mash” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” will fill the streets several times throughout the festival. Event organizers are looking for monsters and zombies to take part. To volunteer, call Nancy Farmer at 727-3228, ext. 131.
• The festival will also feature a lamppost decorating contest sponsored by the Riverhead BID and a pumpkin carving contest sponsored by East End Arts. Visit riverheadbid.com and eastendarts.org for more information.
Festival volunteers will meet at Riverhead Free Library every Monday at 6 p.m. throughout October to help with event preparations. Mr. St. George said he hopes to amass more than 200 volunteers, who can contact him directly at 631-654-1888.
As with all great stories, he said he hopes this one is “to be continued” — to be enjoyed for Halloweens to come.