Over Labor Day weekend in 1994, several friends from the Bayport-Sayville area organized a day of music, food and fun. Held in the backyard of Bayport resident Brad Ringhouse, the event, which proved to be a rousing success, was aptly dubbed "Bradstock." With enthusiasm sky high, the all-volunteer organizers planned Bradstock II for the following Labor Day. However, two extra ingredients were to be added to the original, successful formula - a focus on our environment, and a determination to raise funds to donate to area organizations. The good time had by all was to be complemented with a good cause supported by all. Which is exactly what has happened.
With the buzz of the first two Bradstocks encouraging new participants to join the cause, and with the success of the festivals far surpassing what the organizers could have ever imagined, Bradstocks III and IV were held on the grounds of Meadowcroft in Bayport. Artists came to display their work, various not-for-profit environmental organizations set up informative, educational booths, and new musicians eagerly joined Bradstock‘s solid line-up of performers. Best of all, the events generated profits, as well as canned foodstuffs, which was donated and distributed to local good causes. In 1998, the festival's organizers had to find a new home to host an event heading into its fifth year. Reluctantly leaving the South Shore, Bradstocks V and VI were held at the Flowerfield Fairgrounds in St. James, a lovely, functional setting that unfortunately dramatically increased venue costs, and moved us away from our "backyard." And while the fun and music at the 1998 and 1999 events ultimately surpassed the previous festivals, Bradstock V ran in the red and Bradstock VI just barely broke even. With financial resources nonexistent, all Bradstock donations to not-for-profits came to a sad end. On a bright note, the canned foodstuffs brought by the guests and given to the Sayville Food Pantry and Island Harvest reached record highs.
It was at Bradstock V that the maestro David Amram first came to our stage. David is an extraordinary human being and musical legend whose talents, tales and enthusiasm have bolstered our event in ways and directions that we could never have accomplished without his support and participation. Thank you David and company!!
With the new millennium upon us, Bradstock's organizers reflected on all they had accomplished, as well as what they wanted to achieve with Bradstock VII. With all the time, energy, and hard work contributed by the organizers, musicians and volunteers, the ends of Bradstock simply had to justify the means. Along with the music, fun and fellowship, the desire for the festival to again generate money for worthy causes, and enlightens participants about improving the environment, once again became the focal point for the event. As well, there was a strong desire to bring the event back to the South Shore.
A conversation in May 2000 with the Director of the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville opened our eyes to what had been in our backyard all along. In many ways the LIMM represented the ideals of the Circle of Chiefs. It is an educational institution that strives to preserve the cultural history of Long Island's south shore, while along the way exploring the science of marine biology and rediscovering the artistry of the boat builder's craft. In Bradstock's grandest dreams, the organizers hoped for a success to rival Pete Seeger's Clearwater Revival, which did so much to help the Hudson River overcome threats from pollution. If our festival, and the bands who play there, and the environmental groups who set up the exhibits there, can help raise prople's consciousness about the Great South Bay, then the time and energy volunteered to host Bradstock is well spent.
Bradstock VII, held on grounds of the museum, smack dab along the Great South Bay, was a huge success. Although torrential rains were reported far and wide, ole father sun decided to keep us dry with just a few minor drops throughout the day! Sunny skies and even greater success prevailed on Bradstock VIII, with Bradstock IX reigning love on the 800 strong who braved the drenching rain to enjoy the finest music yet. Bradstock X was a beautiful sunshine daydream and ushered in the addition of a second stage to our festival and seamless set transitions. Bradstock XI - The Eleven, the quintessential splendiferous outing was a personal favorite. Bradstock XII was proof that the labor of love among volunteers, musicians, and deadicated Bradstockers remains unsurpassed and was highlighted with a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson that included an onstage reading of his works by Dr. Thompson's widow Anita. Bradstock XII was a yet another display of music lover's camaraderie and increased giving both in food and funds.
Number XIII presented weather challenges - including high winds that caused the hard working stage crew to have to wait until Sunday morning to complete the stage construction and final tent erection. The many Bradstock volunteers managed to soak up gallons of water left by the heavy storm. The hard work of these Bradstockers provided for another successful year. Bradstock XIV looked back for inspiration to San Francisco in its tie-dye heyday. The spirit was palpable and the day was spotless filled with dancing, singing, and enjoying the positive vibrations. As for Bradstock XV - the music did not want to stop as the sun shone down in absolute splendor. The 40th anniversary of Woodstock was reason enough for Bradstock XVI to be a success in every way. While we did not close down the NY State thruway, those in attendance who also were in Bethel back in August of 1969, report that in terms of love, peace and music, Bradstock XVI held its own.
And then there was Bradstock XVII. The compass always points to Terrapin Station. Who could of envisioned such an outpouring of humanity when we started on this journey so many years ago? Despite the usual roadbloacks - and some new ones thrown at us this year - Bradstock prevailed and the best Bstock to date unfolded before our very eyes! We had to close the gates at 5 pm as the numbers swelled. Many first timers enjoyed the special magic that is Bradstock – celebration, goodness, giving and generous doses of music served up sweetly and well.
XVII closed the door on our relationship with the Maritime Museum for reasons we need not go into here. Let us just say that we had an excellent 11 year run alongside the Great South Bay in West Sayville, We wish the Museum good luck in all its future endeavors.