Richie Havens performs during the NOFO Rock and Folk Fest,...

Richie Havens performs during the NOFO Rock and Folk Fest, at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue on Saturday. (July 31, 2010) Credit: Photo by Randee Daddona

For all the controversy leading up to it, the NOFO Rock and Folk Festival made an uneventful debut Saturday amid the grapevines of Cutchogue.

The first day of the two-day event had far less impact than some people had feared. While promoters had expected 600 to 800 concertgoers at any given time, "we probably had about 500 people here. . . . We'd like to sell more tickets," said Jim Silver, general manager of the Peconic Bay Winery, which put on the show.

The Southold Town Board had tried to put restrictions on the size and duration of the concert because of local fears that thousands of people would clog local roads and crowds couldn't be kept under control. But a state Supreme Court justice ruled last week that the town board did not have the authority to change the conditions of a permit already issued to the promoters.

Saturday, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell acknowledged that the festival had little impact on police patrols. "Everything was going smoothly," he said.

Southold Police Sgt. Rich Perkins called the festival "uneventful." Police said a woman riding a bike was hit by a car a short distance east of the concert. The car was making a left turn on to a local street, and police said the accident appeared unrelated to the concert.

The concert crowd sat in chairs or lay on blankets to hear artists such as Richie Haven and Mountain. More than 100 people were under a big white tent put up by McBurnie Tent Rental of Cutchogue.

The atmosphere was 1970s mellow.

"We never made it to Woodstock. This is the next best thing," said Carol Mann, 52, of Southold.

"There is nothing like an outdoor festival," agreed her husband, Barry.

While the North Fork has seen bigger events - Mattituck's Strawberry Festival regularly draws 30,000 over three days - this was the first big outdoor rock and folk fest in Southold Town.

There were 30 or 40 trucks and vendor tents to serve the crowd everything from soft ice cream and gyros to one selling CDs and DVDs.

Sep's Farm in Orient was running a mini farm stand. Kate Sepenoski was selling blueberries, raspberries, watermelon and quiche, and she was enjoying the chance to talk to people about farming. "Not everyone can put a seed in the ground and get it to come up," she said.

Rev Jones, a bass player with Mountain, said he mostly performs at big concerts with crowds of 100,000 - not the smaller numbers expected each day in Cutchogue. But it did remind him of home. "I live in Oklahoma in a big city. You drive five or 10 minutes away and it's this," he said.

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