This year, the Dutchess County Fair returns for its 176th incarnation from August 23-28. First held in 1842 as an agricultural fair to promote the region’s many agricultural producers, manufacturers and artisans, this six-day event continues to be one of the largest and oldest county fairs in New York State. During its long history, the fair moved around the county several times, but found a permanent home in 1950 when the Dutchess County Agricultural Society purchased what would become the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. This 147-acre property in Rhinebeck is not only the venue for the annual Food, Music and Farming Festival, it also hosts a variety of other large-scale public events, from car shows to festivals. crafts from spring to fall. Here’s what to expect at the fairgrounds for the 2022 season.
ENY Events | June 18-19, July 22-23
True to its agricultural roots, the fairgrounds still emphasizes local farmers and farm produce with multiple events each year. On June 18 and 19, the fairgrounds will host the Eastern New York Summer Classic, a cattle show featuring pork, lamb, and cattle competitions. On July 22 and 23, the ENY junior heifer show will take place. Both shows have cash prizes.
The Rhinebeck Craft Festival | June 25-26
More than 200 artisans and thousands of visitors will converge on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for this annual celebration of artisan craftsmanship. A stroll through the vendor stalls will reveal clothing and knitted goods, jewelery and a range of functional and decorative art from paintings and photographs to sculptures, ceramics and mixed media. There will also be food vendors and stalls from local wineries and distilleries to keep you full and happy during a day of shopping. For the youngest there will be a range of entertainment from puppet theater to stilt walkers.
176th Dutchess County Fair | August 23-28
Although known for its high-profile musical performances, rides, and funnel cake, the Dutchess County Fair is still a fiercely agricultural event. There are a dozen barns housing all types of cattle and three arenas with full daily schedules of competitions, as well as plenty of demonstrations from milking to shearing. If that’s not your thing, there’s still plenty of rides, food, and other fun to do. On August 23, singer and ventriloquist Darci Lynne will perform and headlining Friday, August 26 will be country lead Chris Janson. There are also areas for horticulture displays, wildlife exhibits, crafts, food vendors, a working blacksmith shop, and a gasoline engine display. Admission ranges from $13.50 for the day to a $25 week-long pass, with live music performances sold separately.
The Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival | September 10-11
Foodies and oenophiles line up because there is something for everyone at this annual celebration of life’s greatest pleasures. Local celebrity chefs will introduce themselves, wine experts and local winemakers will share information and products, and there will be hundreds of food stalls to satiate your appetite. From cooking demonstrations to wine seminars to pantry shopping, you can do a bit of everything at this Labor Day weekend event. Despite its name, this festival also features local brewers and distillers in addition to the dizzying selection of wines from across New York State.
Craft October Festival | October 1-2
Although handicrafts are on display at most fairground season events, this festival is purely about crafts. Organized by Quail Hollow, the group behind the Woodstock-New Paltz arts and crafts fairs, this is a relatively new harvest festival, ringing in the fall with a timely mix of traditions Germanic and autumnal and a spotlight on handmade works. Handcrafted October features a selection of items in over 10 categories, plus art pumpkin carvings, a petting zoo, craft demonstrations and a range of family events from lawn games to horse-drawn carriage rides and a homemade tent. Live music will play in the background all weekend as you browse fine art, jewelry, woodworking, ceramics, textiles, and more.
Barn Star Fall Antiques at Rhinebeck | October 8-9
Celebrate the long weekend by shopping for new vintage finds at this fall spinoff to Barn Star’s Spring Market. Among new and old dealers, you’ll find all manner of decorative and functional antiques, from fine and folk art to furniture from all eras, textiles and quilts, estate jewelry, architectural salvage, crockery, silverware, etc. Book the U-Haul.
NYS Sheep and Wool Festival | October 15-16
Sheep & Wool is the fairground’s other big flagship event – a two-day fluffy, feel-good festival about all things sheep. This celebration of the region’s thriving sheep industry and handicrafts made from wool normally attracts tens of thousands of visitors from across the country. This year, the programming will be hybrid with some online events and some IRL at the fairgrounds. But don’t worry, there will always be plenty of offers. Demonstrations of breeding, shearing, spinning, etc. to a petting zoo and countless stalls of work by fiber artists and textile makers, the Sheep & Wool Festival is a day full of the senses. It’s not just sheep either, there’s a whole bar dedicated to camelids and cashmeres (i.e. alpacas, goats, etc.). For those on the production side, there are also handy offerings like a breed barn, sheep sale, and equipment auction.