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Once-spurned music festival cleared for takeoff at new venue in Southampton Town

Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach will

Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach will host concertgoers at the Palm Tree Music Festival on Aug. 29. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

A concert featuring "unmissable sets by global icons" that last month was rejected by Southampton Town officials has instead received Suffolk County approval to be held Aug. 29 at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach.

A website for the concert, the Palm Tree Music Festival, says Norwegian DJ Kygo and manager Myles Shear will curate the one-day event featuring talent acts Zedd and Gryffin.

The Suffolk Legislature voted 18-0 on July 27 to approve a resolution allowing County Executive Steve Bellone to enter a licensing agreement with organizer Squadra Entertainment.

Southampton Town rejected the event company’s request last month to host the festival at the Nova’s Ark property in Water Mill, the site of a controversial 2020 Chainsmokers concert, citing traffic, safety and other concerns.

Available tickets range from $450 for general admission to $50,000 for a private on-stage viewing package, according to the website. It would be limited to 2,500 attendees and 500 cars, according to the county.

"Palm Tree Music Festival is a one-of-a-kind intimate festival experience, bringing the dream of the tropics to lush locations around the world, starting with the Hamptons," the website states. "Curated by Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew, the single-day event captures the unmatched feeling of summer in paradise, majestic beach vibes, unmissable sets by global icons, curated food & drink offerings, unique brand activations and exclusive VIP experiences."

Squadra representatives could not be reached for comment.

The legislature's resolution states the entertainment industry took a hard hit during the pandemic and that Squadra had already invested money with local businesses such as food vendors to host the concert. It says Suffolk County "seeks to help promote local businesses which support the arts and entertainment industries."

A spokesman for Bellone did not comment on the agreement.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the airport, which unlike Nova’s Ark is near Sunrise Highway and is not in a residential neighborhood, was a better spot for a large concert. He also said he did not believe the event organizers needed approvals from Southampton Town to host the event.

"The event brings 500 cars, which is less than the number of vehicles that parked there for the U.S. Open [golf tournament]," he wrote in a text message. "I think this is a much more suitable location than the property they originally chose in Water Mill."

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said the county sheriff’s department would oversee the festival and the town would assist if requested.

Last summer’s Chainsmokers concert drew massive attention after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo repeatedly chastised town officials for not doing more to control the crowds and the concert was investigated by the state Health Department. People had been allowed to congregate in a section near the stage where mask wearing was not enforced.

Concert promoters In the Know Experiences and Invisible Noise were fined $20,000 by the state for the July 25, 2020, concert for failing to abide by the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

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