The North Fork has a block party season and it’s already started. With local culture in mind, summer-long events like First Fridays on Love Lane in Mattituck and Alive on 25 in Riverhead are gatherings of local businesses that aim to have just as much fun as the residents and tourists they attract. Led by organizations working to enhance and improve their respective business districts, these community events highlight the area and its people.
The Mattituck Chamber of Commerce president and owner of Mattituck Florist, Danielle LaScala, says the idea behind First Fridays, which takes place on the first Friday of the month now through October, originated as a local beverage and artisanal event for North Fork businesses. It has since evolved into a community gathering place. With her shop being one of the businesses on Love Lane, it’s been a great opportunity for her as well. “I think community events like this are important because we do not have enough time in the day to really get to know each other and this gives us all an opportunity to connect on a more personal level,” she says.
Vendors include resident businesses Love Lane Kitchen, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market, The Village Cheese Shop and others that have been together since the beginning. Michael Affatato, owner of The Village Cheese Shop, says he has noticed a huge difference since the Mattituck Chamber took over and loves that the event exposes people to the food movement on the North Fork. “I just love the energy,” Affatato says. “It’s a unified effort to augment our own neighborhood relationships that we wouldn’t know otherwise.”
Bites and sips of wine and beer are available at a lower price point to allow people to sample multiple offerings while also shopping goods from local purveyors. There is also live music and face painting for kids.
“We love First Fridays on Love Lane because it gives us a chance to celebrate this great community in a block party setting,” says Love Lane Kitchen owner Carolyn Iannone. “The crowds are a fun mix of locals, families, neighbors and friends all getting together to support local business food, drink and music.”
Other vendors include Greenport Jerky, aMano Restaurant, La Tieda, and new businesses North Fork Doughnut Co., MattiTaco, and Eastern Front Brewing. “First Fridays exudes exactly what makes being a business owner in this community so special,” Lauren Lombardi, owner of Love Lane Market, explains. “The sense of encouraging spirit, genuine interest and local support is in abundance on an evening where we all share what makes us passionate about our business and our neighbors. Everyone is celebrating our community with a smile and that’s just really a beautiful thing!”
Riverhead Business Improvement District executive director Diane Tucci has a similar feeling toward Alive on 25. The summer street festival, which takes place on select Thursdays in July and August, gives people a chance to enjoy the town they live in. She says people love to celebrate and have a good time, and it’s a good reason to get together with friends and family.
“It’s important to have an event that all ages can come to,” Tucci explains. “These are the times great memories are made and old friendships are renewed. It’s also important as an attraction to people outside the local community to bring them to our town when they may not have come otherwise. The event puts Riverhead on the map for new visitors. It also encourages people to perhaps come out a day earlier for their summer weekend plans.”
The arts stage on East End Arts grounds will return this year to host acoustic acts and poets. Children’s entertainers, street performers, Keith Leif’s fire show, face painting and the car show can be expected at the event, as well as kid-favorite “Bubblepalooza.” Alive on 25 is held on Thursday nights as it can bring in thousands of visitors on an otherwise relatively quiet evening.
“Towards the end of the season, for the final Alive on 25 on August 9 we anticipate the unveiling of a brand-new arts installation called Arts in the Park,” Tucci says of what’s new this year. “It’s an exhibit featuring assorted elements of light based on artist interpretations and designs that result in a tangible exhibit.”
Learn more at facebook.com/firstfridaysonlovelane and aliveon25.com.