The main reason is that, as you know, the Windmill is in need of restoration. The Chamber of Commerce wanted to do something to shift attention over to the Windmill and add value to our efforts there and focus our resources. Not only would it drive more donations, we also thought it might be fun. Wednesday is kind of an off night and this way people could also watch the yacht races. The reason we changed the time was to bring more people into the village during off hours. During 4 to 6 p.m. would capture people coming from the beach late afternoon who would hopefully want to stick around later for dinner or to see a show.
What has also changed about the music series?
The bands are a little smaller; we have been trying to reduce. We do quite a few events and we want to do anything we can to help drive business and give people a reason to stick around. The smaller area works really well; people can bring a blanket or a chair to sit out on the lawn. The Windmill is an iconic part of Sag Harbor. Sitting out and looking at the bridge and the water is a beautiful view. There is an eclectic mix with local roots from all over the East End. We have blues, jazz, soul, Americana, R&B, reggae, a little rock, world-music, pop and original music. These are names people will recognize and with five concerts gives us the ability to be somewhat flexible. The Sag Harbor Community Band plays on Tuesdays and it will be celebrating 55 years of free concerts. Now there is also something on Wednesday, in the middle of the week that will benefit the village.
How does the Chamber hope this will gain financial support for the Windmill?
Mostly by holding them at the Windmill and raising awareness. Those who don’t know about this effort are going to. We will have a table set up asking for donations as well as a little merchandise. Local artists donated these notecards of beautiful images of musicians playing in front of the Windmill. With a five-dollar donation they will get a free notecard. It is a nice memento to help support a great local effort. It’s something they can walk away with from the community and feel good about.
How will the money raised be used to help restore the Windmill?
As [chamber of commerce president] Robert Evjen said we aren’t losing our music series, we’re just reframing it. First thing is to get each of the blades restored. It costs about $10,000 to $15,000 a blade. We already raised over $20,000 with the help of the community. It’s really a positive thing. We hope this series will help close the gap. The summer is when we have the most traffic. Everyone who is going to Sag Harbor has to go past the Windmill and with all the signs it can’t help but raise awareness.
The Chamber of Commerce will present its five free performances at the Sag Harbor Windmill on Long Wharf from 4 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday (August 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29)