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Fall 2020

Fun at the Fairgrounds: Celebrating Dutchess County

Anthony Quintano via FlickrBlue skies, blue rivers, and sandwiched between them, the gorgeous red and gold foliage—fall is truly one of the most stunning times to visit New York. Beginning in August and going through to mid-November, a New York autumn is heralded by the transformation of the leaves and a certain crispness to the air. Almost immediately, citizens of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York set out to celebrate the season with their many fall traditions.

The earliest event lies on the border of summer and fall: the Dutchess County Fair, held in the scenic town of Rhinebeck, New York. The second largest fair in the state began as a yearly event in which farmers could come and show off their agricultural skills, and it doesn’t forget those roots. Agriculture and farming remain a highlight of the experience, from the petting zoos, to pig races, to 4-H farm animal exhibitions. One such exhibition is the birthing tent, where farmers bring their pregnant farm animals to educate viewers on the process of delivering calves, kids, and colts. Over the week, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to witness the miracle of birth! Another exhibition that’s great on those hot summer-fall days is the Garden Show, where gardeners decorate an entire barn with their own mini gardens in a competition. Taking a stroll through the barn is a nice, relaxing break from the excitement of the fair outside.

But it’s not all about farming—nowadays the fair can delight all audiences with its carnival rides and reoccurring sideshow attractions. Classic staples include the 'skinny German juggling boy,' Hilby, who cheerfully greets you at the entrance, or the exciting pig races where you can cheer on champion racers like Tyrone the Terrible. From daring high dive shows to concerts, there will be local businesses and activities to entertain and delight you.

And speaking of 4-H, the food of the Dutchess County Fair is of the highest tier. Grab a milkshake made with fresh dairy from the 4-H tents or an apple cider donut from the local orchards, a definite must to celebrate the oncoming autumn and New York's state fruit. Classic fair food, like fried Oreos and corn dogs, is also available, as well as more substantial meals at the restaurants and wine tastings.

Don’t miss out! The Dutchess County Fair is one of the best ways to celebrate the end of summer and the onset of fall. Come and enjoy the sights, food, and talent of the citizens of upstate New York—you’ll always be a welcome guest.

—Amity Wootan