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Riverhead festival takes community fun to art

Chalk creations will adorn downtown streets Sunday during the 23rd annual celebration.

Artist Kimberly Guthrie, of Calverton, participates in the

Artist Kimberly Guthrie, of Calverton, participates in the annual Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival in downtown Riverhead in 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

 A couple of blocks of Main Street in Riverhead are set to become a colorful canvas Sunday  at the free Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival scheduled from noon to 5 p.m.

The annual celebration of the arts, which has a May 27 rain date, has become a Memorial Day weekend tradition for people who want to indulge their creative spirits by drawing artwork on the surface of the street using chalk.

Thousands are expected to participate in the 23rd annual event to be held on the East End Arts grounds on East Main Street and along the Peconic River in downtown Riverhead. East End Arts, a not-for-profit organization started in 1972 to build and enrich the community through education, advocacy and inspiration connected to the arts, is organizing the festival.

“It’s really a day for the whole family,” says East End Arts executive director Diane Burke. “It’s not often that parents can relive their childhood memories of when they could play in the street — when it wasn’t dangerous. There’s not a lot of opportunity to do that with the family.”

Burke says East Avenue to Roanoke Avenue off Main Street will be closed off for the event.

Artists come from all over Long Island to participate, Burke says, with some creating some “incredible” work.

Burke explains that the closed-off portion of Main Street is divided into grids “so everybody gets a piece to do their artwork.”

There’s also opportunity during the event to experience and appreciate what Riverhead has to offer, Burke adds.

“A lot of shops along Main Street are going to be available during that time, so people can sample a great yogurt shop, ice cream, a luncheonette … there are places where they can have lunch or snacks,” Burke says. “People will be pleasantly surprised if they haven’t visited Riverhead [to see what’s there]. There’ll also be crafts and music — it’ll be very festive.”

The festival is sponsored by Suffolk County and Bridgehampton National Bank.

“Riverhead’s Annual Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival is such a great way to invite our artistic community to be part of our downtown, says Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. “The works that our local artists create transform East Main Street,” she adds. “The festival is such a wonderful opportunity for families to visit Riverhead and see all the amazing businesses our downtown has to offer.”

WHAT Free 23rd Annual Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival

WHEN | WHERE Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. (Rain date: May 27 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.), grounds of East End Arts at 133 E. Main St. in Riverhead and on Main Street from East Avenue to Roanoke Avenue.

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