Late summer through autumn are festival time in the Hudson Valley. Some celebrations go on for half a day, others for a weekend or even a full week. Some are geared for kids and families, others for teens or adult audiences. Whatever your area of interest — music, farm-to-table food, theater, thrill rides, history, humor, art, dance, classic cars, craft beer, ethnic cultures, geeky stuff — there’s something happening to suit you. Here’s a long but hardly exhaustive list of festive happenings to check out from late July into early September.
Saturday-Sunday, July 29 and 30
Borscht Belt Fest
Various venues, Ellenville
Brand-new on our radar this summer – and closely tied to the project of opening a Catskills Borscht Belt Museum in downtown Ellenville – the Borscht Belt Fest will pay homage to the legacy of the region’s hotels, resorts and night clubs that catered to the New York metro area’s Jewish community in the middle of the last century. The Borscht Belt left a profound legacy and wide-ranging influence on contemporary American culture, notably as a training ground for comedians.
The festival will feature stand-up comedy, art, live music, film, educational programming, and of course food. Many of the events will be free: a street fair, exhibits, musical performances and movie screenings. Ticket prices for comedy shows and talks range from $18 to $35, with proceeds going to support the not-for-profit museum. Venues include Market Street Studios, Shadowland Stages and Morning Sunshine in Ellenville, plus a Sunday brunch and field trip to Mountain Dale. Paid performances include:
• The Plumber Always Flushes Twice: Tales & Jokes from a Catskills Plumber
• So, You Wanna Be Funny?
• Stop at the Red Apple: A Journey Back in Time
• The Borscht Belt Classic
• Stars of the Borscht Belt: The Entertainment Legacy of the Catskills
• Lucie Pohl’s Immigrant Jam
• If You’re Having a Good Time, Tell Your Face! Stand-up in the Catskills
• From Pushcarts to Poolside: An Immigrant History of Food
• Taste the Tradition: A Hands-on Halva-Making Workshop
• New Faces in Standup
• Comedy Cellar Showcase
• Weeding out the Stoned: The Game Show of Sobriety Tests
Saturday, July 29, 7-11 p.m.
Mahoney’s Irish Pub & Steakhouse, Poughkeepsie
Wizard Fest is an interactive fantasy-themed party featuring a deejay, dancing, themed drinks, a cosplay costume contest, wizard trivia and wizard games. Although nobody’s specifying which particular highly trademarked wizard, wizarding world, books or movie series might be the inspiration for the celebration here, the drinks menu includes references to “buttery brews.” Attendees not competing for costume prizes are encouraged to wear “house colors or dress robes” at the least, and to bring brooms or wands. (Strictly no admittance of owls, cats or toads.)
General admission costs $18; the VIP package at $66 includes priority entry and a swag bag including a Wizard Fest scarf, tee-shirt, custom wand, cup and totebag.
Saturday, July 29, 4:15 p.m.
Outlaw Music Festival
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Pavilion
Okay, technically this all-star concert is a festival in name only, but it’s billed as “North America’s largest touring music festival.” The headliner is its founder, the beloved Willie Nelson, joined by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Gov’t Mule, Kathleen Edwards & Particle Kid. The gates open at 3 p.m. and the music starts at 4:15. Ticket prices range from $54 (lawn) to $388.
Tuesday-Sunday, August 1-6
Ulster County Fair
Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz
With a pedigree dating back to 1869, the Ulster County Fair combines the rustic charm of an old-fashioned harvest fair, featuring live farm animals and pie competitions, with more contemporary attractions, including a lively midway and a lineup of popular country music stars. This year’s headliner acts include Thunder Ridge, Lee Greenwood, Alex Shillo’s Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, the Kentucky Headhunters, Thompson Square and J. D. Leonard (As Garth).
Admission to all the entertainment except games and refreshments) at the Ulster County Fair is included in a single wristband price of $18 advance purchase, $20 at the gate. A family of up to eight people can get in for $50 on Carload Night: Tuesday, August 1 from 4 p.m. on. Seniors get in free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Rides open at 11 a.m. Parking is free.
Friday-Sunday, August 4-6
Phoenicia Festival of the Arts
Main Street, Phoenicia
Here’s another big event launching this summer for the first time, sponsored by the Varga Gallery. The three-day Phoenicia Festival of the Arts event spans the entirety of Main Street from the Arts & Antiques Center at the former pharmacy to the beloved Phoenicia Playhouse in the center of town, all the way down to the Phoenicia Park field. It includes a Main Street market for artists and artisans and plenty of family-friendly activities and happenings throughout town.
The visual art piece of the festival will include an exhibition at the Varga Gallery, a pop-up show at the Arts & Antiques Center, plus outdoor installations all over downtown. Performances at the Phoenicia Playhouse will include a free opening-night celebration on Friday, August 4 at 7 p.m. with Anna Hafner’s The Oneironaut, a multimedia telling of a dream-traveler who comes to Earthside to save us from ourselves. On Saturday at 5 p.m., Hudson Valley Improv will perform Samantha Jones’ Butterfly Suicide. At 2 p.m. on Sunday, a literary panel including Suzan Saxman, Sparrow X, Carter, Shiv Mirabito, Amy King, Abigail Thomas, James Conrad and others will hold forth. It will be followed by a live podcast called That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen by Moth Radio Hour story slam winner Heather Dell’Amore.
The Main Street Market will host live outdoor music, poetry readings, open mics and artist demonstrations, and offer artisan-made gifts, artwork, curated vintage collections, ceramics, sculpture, and more. Street performers and buskers will be dancing, playing and performing live street cabaret, including a “Wandering Gypsy Tarot Faerie Witch” and a “shapeshifting, wandering art creature from realms unknown.” There will be psychics, mediums, tarot readers and diviners; community tai chi, yoga, gong baths, hula hooping and meditation; a weaving workshop and a drum circle. Activities for kids will include sasquatch walks and fairy wandmaking.
Saturday, August 5, 12-6 p.m.
Hudson Valley Craft Beverage Festival
Twin Star Orchards, 155 North Ohioville Road, New Paltz
More than 20 producers of cider, wine, beer, spirits and mead will gather at Twin Star Orchards on the outskirts of New Paltz, There will be live music all day, with the Mixtapes starting up at noon and Lucas Perez at 3:30 p.m. Wood-fired pizza, burgers and barbecue will be available for sale.
The Hudson Valley Craft Beverage Festival will offer two two-hour tasting sessions, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Tickets for each of the sessions cost $20 if purchased online and $25 at the door. VIP tickets at $55 allow early entry to the tasting tents between noon and 1 p.m. All tickets include a souvenir tasting glass.
Saturday, August 5
Positive Jam Festival
Arrowood Farms, 236 Lower Whitfield Road, Accord
The Hold Steady will headline the inaugural Positive Jam music festival on the outdoor stage at Rondout Valley craft brewery Arrowood Farms. Also in the lineup are Guided by Voices, The Tallest Man on Earth, Laura Stevenson, I Get Wild, and Oceanator. Local food vendors and craft beer will be available. Curtain time and ticket prices are yet to be announced as of press time.
Sunday, August 6, noon-8 p.m.
Bon-Odori Dance Festival for Peace
Kingston Point Beach, Kingston
Japanese noodle queen/peace activist Youko Yamamoto’s Bon-odori Dance Festival for Peace, marking the anniversary of the atomic bomb strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, returns for its thirteenth iteration. Live music and dance, Buddhist prayer ceremonies, presentations on Japanese culture, and speeches about preventing war and nuclear proliferation characterize this annual event. Admission is free.
“The theme of this year is ‘No Nuke, No War’ to protest nuclear weapons, energy and the radioactive environment,” Yamamoto says. “Because of the rising tensions and fear of nuclear weapons in the Russia-Ukraine war, it is the time to make our voice loud to be heard.”
Wednesday-Sunday, August 9-13
Hudson Valley Jazz Festival
Beacon, Greenwood Lake, Kingston, Marlboro Montgomery, Port Jervis, Stone Ridge, Sugar Loaf, Tarrytown, Warwick, West Park, Woodstock
“We’ve been honored to present high-profile jazz artists in the past. However, our mission is primarily featuring groups led by Hudson Valley, NY resident artists,” write the organizers of the Hudson Valley Jazz Festival, now in its fourteenth season. “We’re all about helping raise the profile of musicians with years of experience deserving wider recognition.”
Even if you’re not a passionate jazz aficionado, you’ll likely recognize at least a few of the performers in this year’s extensive lineup, from local stars such as Bob Shaut, Peter Tomlinson, Teri Roiger and Jon Menegon to more nationally known names including Pete Levin, Jimmy Vivino and Harvey Sorgen. We’re especially delighted to note that the eclectic and indefatigable David Amram, now age 92, will be appearing at Beacon’s Howland Cultural Center on Saturday evening, August 12.
Participating venues in this truly valley-wide festival include the Cove and the Trail’s End Taphouse in Greenwood Lake, the Front Street Tavern and Frank Guido’s Little Italy in Kingston, the Hudson House Distillery in West Park, On the Lawn in Sugar Loaf Crossing, the UpFront Gallery in Port Jervis (with a Bill Evans tribute concert), Pierson Park in Tarrytown, Astoria Hudson in Montgomery, Railroad Green in Warwick, the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, Lydia’s in Stone Ridge, Barnstock in Woodstock, the Albert Wisner Library in Warwick and the Falcon in Marlboro. For all the details on artists, dates, times, locations and ticket prices, visit the website at www.hudsonvalleyjazzfest.org.
Saturday, August 12, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hudson Valley Caribbean Carnival
Cantine Veterans’ Memorial Field, Saugerties
The not-for-profit organization Seasoned Gives is hosting its fourth annual Hudson Valley Caribbean Carnival, featuring a full day of authentic Caribbean food, music and cultural events, children’s activities and more. The parade begins at 2 p.m. Admission is free for all.
For more information on scheduled performers, visit the website at www.seasonedgives.org/events.
Saturday, August 12, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Canal Street/Liberty Square, Ellenville
If you’re a regular hiker in the Shawangunks, you probably have your favorite spots for picking wild blueberries and huckleberries in midsummer. And if you know your local history, you’ll be aware that there used to be an entire settlement of people atop the ridge, the Trapps hamlet, whose annual income depended mainly on huckleberry-picking. It’s a wonder those shining white conglomerate cliffs weren’t permanently stained purple.
Your teeth, tongue and fingers might be, though, once you’ve spent a day at Ellenville’s long-running annual Blueberry Festival. It goes on rain or shine, with live music all day – this year from the Hudson Valley Youth Orchestra, the Jazz Pioneers and the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Express. More than 100 vendors, many of them hawking blueberry pies, muffins, jams and other seasonal goodies, will line the downtown streets. There are contests (possibly involving having to eat a number of pies with your hands tied behind your back) and a 50/50 raffle. Admission is free.
Saturday, August 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cars for Cathy Memorial Car Show
Red Rooster Sports Pub, 82 South Cross Road, Staatsburg
Motorheads gather for a worthy cause at the Cars for Cathy Memorial Car Show in Staatsburg, this year having its fifth annual outing. All makes and models of cars are welcome, with a $15-per-car entry fee. All proceeds will be donated to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Trophies for first, second and third place will be awarded, based on “the people’s choice.” Food and beverages will be available. The rain date is Sunday, August 13.
Sunday, August 13, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saugerties Antique Auto Club Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
Cantine Veterans’ Memorial Field, Saugerties
Got some vintage wheels you want to show off? Or do you just have fun admiring other people’s rides? The 66th annual Saugerties Antique Auto Club Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show is a big deal, organized by serious collectors. All makes and models are welcome to compete for more than 40 trophies, judged separately in two age categories: prior to 1998 and from 1999 to the present. Registration is free for vehicles built pre-1942, $15 thereafter. Among the awards are one for best Model T/Model A, another for best unrestored pre-war, and even longest distance driven.
Admission is free for spectators. Breakfast and lunch will be served. There will be live music, and DJ Brian will be playing oldies all day. To register a car in advance, call Irene DeGraff at 845-679-6810 or Rich Flaherty at 845-337-8426. You can also register on-site from 10 a.m. to noon.
Sunday, August 13, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
ATCA Mid-Hudson Chapter Annual Antique Truck Show
Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz
All trucks and tractors 25 years and older are welcome to participate in this year’s antique truck show organized by the Mid-Hudson Chapter of the Antique Truck Club of America. Spectators aged 13 and up are asked for a suggested donation of $2 to attend. Refreshments will be available.
Registration to show a truck costs $10. To sign up or obtain more information, contact Jim Bracco at 845-206-5091 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mike Fowler at 845-883-7191 or email@example.com.
Saturday-Sunday, August 19 & 20
Catbird Music Festival
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
For the first time in decades, a new music fest will debut on the historic field of Woodstock 1969, It’s the two-day Catbird Music Festival, emphasizing folk, indie and Americana artists, as well as jam bands. On Saturday, August 19, you can hear the Lumineers, the War on Drugs, Band of Horses, Trampled by Turtles, Margo Price, James Bay, Shovels & Rope, Adia Victoria, 49 Winchester, Briscoe and John R. Miller. Sunday’s lineup includes Tyler Childers, the Trey Anastasio Band, Dispatch, Charley Crockett, Morgan Wade, Amos Lee, Celisse, Allison Russell, Soul Rebels, Eggy and Madeline Edwards.
Tickets are being sold for single-day entry and for the full weekend, with prices ranging from $140 for general admission for one day up to $1500 for a two-day platinum pass that comes with all sorts of bells and whistles including up-front seating, special lounges and concierge services. Premium parking, camping and glamping passes are available for additional fees.
Tuesday, August 22-Sunday, August 27
Dutchess County Fair
Dutchess County Fairgrounds, 6550 Springbrook Avenue, Rhinebeck
If the Ulster County Fair is the homey small-town version of a classic American country fair, the 177-year-old Dutchess County Fair is our region’s grandpappy of the genre, the second-largest county fair in New York State. Everything about it, from the midway to the array of agricultural exhibits spread over the 160-acre site, is huge. In addition to typical fair fare like prizewinning 4-H livestock, giant pumpkins, pies and pickles, horse-jumping and racing pigs, you can also check out oddball offerings like dock-diving dogs and sheep and goat costume competitions. Special areas highlight agriculture, horticulture, turn-of-the-century treasures, a working blacksmith shop, and a gas-powered engine show.
In most cases, admission to live grandstand performances is included in the daily entry price. The exception this year is headliner Brantley Gilbert, performing at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 23; his show costs $65 extra. Other grandstand acts include Cooper Alan and Chase McDaniel on Tuesday, the Steve Augeri Band on Thursday, Chris Cagle on Friday, and Refugee, a Tom Petty Tribute Band, on Saturday – all at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s grandstand event, the Dutchess Fair Highland Games, runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fair hours are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Rides start running at 11 a.m.
To avoid long lines, purchase your tickets online in advance. Children aged 11 and under are admitted free, but midway ride tickets or wristbands must be purchased separately. Adult admission costs $15 online, $18 at the gate. On Wednesdays, seniors (65+) and military personnel can get in for $12. Ride-all-day wristbands cost $33 online, $35 on-site. Individual ride tickets cost $2 each, 20 for $25, 52 for $60. Parking is free.
Saturdays/Sundays/Labor Day, August 26-October 8, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
New York Renaissance Faire
Sterling Forest, 600 Route 17A, Tuxedo
Our region’s premier Ren Faire will be back for seven weekends, offering endless choices of fun things to see, hear and do in a parklike setting, surrounded by earnestly in-character medieval knights and ladies, rogues and wenches, mummers, jugglers, singers, pipers, merchants, artisans, publicans, aristocrats, falconers and fairies. Do wear a period costume, if you’ve got anything resembling one, to heighten the sense of immersion in this fantasy world.
If you’ve been here before, you probably already know what regular performers you most want to track down. We’re especially pleased to report that bawdy perennial favorites the Washing Well Wenches will be back this year. There will be a few new acts as well, including a storyteller called the King of Crochet. You can still visit the Viking village, view scenes from Shakespeare, and follow Robin Hood and his Merry Band of Outlaws from one confrontation with villains to another all day long.
Special themed weekends for 2023 include marketplace weekend, September 2 through 4; time traveler weekend (when the steampunk crowd shows up) September 9 and 10; and pirate weekend, September 16 and 17. The latter two have costume contests.
Ticket prices have gone up this year, alas, so keep an eye and ear out for discount offers. Adult entry costs $42, $18 for children aged five to twelve, $37 for seniors and military personnel. A season pass at $225 is a good deal if you live close enough to pop in anytime the weather’s nice.
Friday-Sunday, August 25-September 3
Barton Orchards, 63 Apple Tree Lane, Poughquag
A two-weekend party organized around cutting your own sunflowers from about 100,000 of them growing in a five-acre field, with a selection of eleven different varieties? Sounds like a real mood-lifter! The fifth annual Barton Orchards Sunflower Festival also offers live music, a tap room featuring beer and cider from 20 local craft breweries, wine and spirits, lobster rolls, craft vendors and hayrides. Just for kids, there’s a fun park with a new mega slide, a petting zoo, a wooden ship playground, and a slip ‘n’ slide.
The Sunflower Festival is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, August 25 and September 1; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, August 26 and September 2; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, August 27 and September 3 and on Labor Day, Monday, September 4.
As of press time in mid-July, discounted early-bird pricing was still available on the website at https://bartonorchards.ticketspice.com/5th-annual-sunflower-festival. Admission for ages 13 and up currently costs $20, $15 for children aged 4 to 12, plus taxes and fees. These tickets entitle the purchaser to cut two sunflowers, Additional blooms cost three dollars each. Guests are encouraged to bring their own small gardening shears, as the venue has a limited supply. Parking at Barton Orchards is free.
September 2-4, 10 a.m.
Woodstock-New Paltz Art & Crafts Fair
Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz
This twice-annual juried crafts fair, running since 1982, needs no introduction. About 200 exhibitors offer top-shelf handcrafted products in the categories of ceramics, distilleries/wineries, fiber, fine art, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, photography, publishing, wood and furniture. A separate tent is dedicated to handcrafted specialty foods and healthcare products. You get to watch live craft demonstrations and listen to great local musicians. Kids are entertained for free in an arts and crafts tent under adult supervision while you shop. The selection of fair food is top-quality.
The fair opens at 10 a.m. each day and closes at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and at 4 p.m. on Labor Day. Admission costs $12 for adults, $10 for seniors. Parking is free, and you can’t beat the view of the Gunks.
Sunday, September 3,
11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Hooley on the Hudson
T. R. Gallo Memorial Park,
30 Rondout Landing, Kingston
Come on down to the Rondout waterfront to enjoy the 22nd annual Hooley on the Hudson Irish festival, hosted by the City of Kingston and the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 1, Ulster County. It’s a full day of free entertainment on three stages, featuring live music and step dancing and traditional music for all ages, plus lots of food and craft vendors and cultural exhibits. The celebration commences with a parade of fignitaries at 11:30 a.m.
On the Feeney stage, the performers will include the Ulster County AOH Pipes & Drums, Kilashandra, Sheridan Ruitin, the Farrell School of Irish Dance, the Little Creek Band and Barleyjuice. The Bill Yosh stage will present the opening ceremonies and national anthems with Tommy Flynn, followed by the T. McCann Band, the Ulster County AOH Pipes & Drums, Celtic Heels Irish Dance, Triskele, Andy Cooney and His Band and McGroovin’. The new Trad stage will feature Liz Hanley, Jefferson Hammer, Leah Rankin, Matt Stapleton, Joseph Sobel, Max Carmichael and Matthew Christian.
As parking down on the Rondout is limited, consider leaving your car in one of the designated free shuttle stops for the Hooley: Kingston Plaza, the Cornell Street public lot, and, for handicapped individuals Kingston Point.