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Patchogue's Great South Bay music festival much more than just music

Beth Lintelman, left, along with her son, Paulie,

Beth Lintelman, left, along with her son, Paulie, 6, and husband, Paul, dance to music during the Great South Bay Music Festival at Shorefront Park in Patchogue. (July 14, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Jessica Rotkiewicz

Pirates, snakes, beer and, of course, music.

Those are just a few of the offerings Saturday and Sunday at the sixth annual Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue, Long Island's largest annual music festival.

More than 50 acts are playing over the weekend, said Jim Faith, festival co-producer. They represent almost every genre -- from a 27-piece Led Zeppelin tribute orchestra to Alex Proios, 15, a Port Jefferson native who plays the mandolin, violin and guitar.

"We wanted the Island to do something different -- not any kind of music in particular," said Faith, 59, also chairman of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. "We don't put bands on because they're going to bring in people. We put on bands because they're good at what they do."

Faith said he expects as many as 20,000 people at this year's festival, which runs through Sunday night at Shorefront Park.

Charlotte Rogg, 18, of Brooklyn Heights, said the festival's eclectic lineup was a huge draw. She said she especially looked forward to listening to last night's headliner, moe., a jam band from Buffalo.

"It's cool to be around a bunch of people that really love music," she said.

Tunes are just the festival's base, Faith said. There's a children's treasure hunt through the park with Ye Pyrate Brotherhood, a historical entertainment troupe dressed in full pirate garb. Their miniature cannons were loud enough to set off nearby car alarms.

Brave festivalgoers get to hold a 4-foot-long albino boa constrictor at a traveling zoo from The Pet Den of Commack. Dozens of vendors offer a variety of goods, including handmade glass pipes and personalized hats. Beverage tents, meanwhile, featured Blue Point beers and Long Island wines.

Still, some festival veterans said rising prices -- tickets are $35 a day -- could drive them away next year. Skip Littmann, 60, said he's come to the event for four years in a row to see the high-quality blues and rock acts. But with pricey tickets and $7 beers, he said, "I might as well go to Yankee Stadium."

The festival gives ample opportunities to local young musicians. Proios, who played on the event's emerging artist stage, said Saturday afternoon was his "first really big gig."

"My name was actually on the poster," he said, smiling. "This is what I want to do with my life."

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